September 30, 2016

St. Thérèse of Lisieux — Her Wisdom in 25 Quotations

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Marie Thérèse Martin was born January 2, 1873, the youngest of five daughters, to a deeply devout Catholic family. At 15, she entered the Carmel of Lisieux where she would spend the rest of her life. Like other saints and teachers of faith, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face experienced profound spiritual insights attained in prayer.
Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ... On the contrary, the most brilliant deeds, when done without love, are but nothingness.
***
We must do all that lies in our power; we must give without counting the cost; we must constantly renounce ourselves. In one word, we must prove our love by all the good works we can perform; but, since all that we can do is very little, it is of the greatest importance that we put our confidence in Him who alone sanctifies those works and that we recognize that we are indeed useless servants, hoping that the good Lord will give us through grace all that we desire.
***
Even if the fire of love seemed to have gone out, I would keep on throwing fuel in it and Jesus would take care to light it up again.
***
I understand so very well that it is only through love that we can render ourselves pleasing to the good Lord, that love is the one thing I long for. The science of love is the only science I desire.
***
I know of no other means to reach perfection than by love. To love: how perfectly our hearts are made for this! Sometimes I look for another word to use, but, in this land of exile, no other word so well expresses the vibrations of our soul. Hence we must keep to that one word: love.
***
Merit does not consist in doing or giving much. It consists in loving much.
***
Directors make people advance in perfection by performing a great number of acts of virtue, and they are right. But my Director, who is Jesus Himself, teaches me to do everything through love.
***
How easy it is to please Jesus, to ravish His Heart. We have merely to love Him, while, at the same time, forgetting ourselves.
***
There is but one thing for us to do in the night of this life and that is to love, to love Jesus with all the energy of our heart and to save souls so that He may be loved by them. O let us cause Jesus to be loved by men!
***
We have merely to love Him, without looking at ourselves, without examining our faults too much.
***
Justice itself, and justice even more than any other divine perfection, seems to me to be clothed in love.
***
A glance of love cast towards Jesus and the knowledge of our profound misery makes reparation for everything.
***
My mother, how sweet is the way of love! No doubt, we are liable to fall, to fail in constancy, but love knows how to draw profit from everything. It quickly consumes anything that may be displeasing to Jesus, leaving only a humble and profound peace at the bottom of our heart.
***
We must never refuse anyone, even when it costs us much pain. Think that it is Jesus who is asking this service of you; how eager and friendly you will then be in granting the favor requested.
***
I must anticipate the desires of others; show that we are much obliged, very honored to be able to render service. The good Lord wants me to forget myself in order to give pleasure to others.
***
I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors' defects — not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues.
***
He does not want us to love Him for His gifts, but for Himself alone... He is so beautiful, so ravishing even when He remains silent, even when He hides Himself.
***
I do not desire sensible affection, a love that I feel, but only a love that is felt by Jesus. Oh! to love Him and cause Him to be loved!
***
O my Jesus, You know well that it is not for the reward that I serve You, but solely because I love You and in order to save souls.
***
Our love for Jesus is truly great when we do not feel its sweetness. It then becomes a martyrdom... When, on the contrary, we begin to seek ourselves, true love dies away. Unfortunately, many serve Jesus when He consoles them, but few are willing to keep Him company when He is asleep.
***
If you wish to feel and to have an attraction for suffering, you are in search of your own consolation, for when we love anything, pain disappears.
***
Take heart, Jesus hears even the last echo of our pain.
***
Our Lord's love makes itself seen quite as much in the simplest of souls as in the most highly gifted, as long as there is no resistance offered to his grace.
***
What a comfort it is, this way of love! You may stumble on it, you in prayer may fail to correspond with grace given, but always love knows how to make the best of everything; whatever offends our Lord is burnt up in its fire, and nothing is left but a humble, absorbing peace deep down in the heart.
***
When I act as charity bids, I have this feeling that it is Jesus who is acting in me; the closer my union with him, the greater my love for all the sisters without distinction.

Saint Ephrem of Syria on Prayer

Saint Ephrem
Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy.
— St. Ephrem

Pour into our hearts O Lord, we pray, the Holy Spirit, at whose prompting the Deacon St. Ephrem, "the Harp of the Holy Spirit", exulted in singing of your mysteries and from whom he received the strength to serve you alone.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, 'The Little Flower' — Virgin and Doctor of the Church

St. Thérèse of Lisieux
You ask me a method of attaining perfection. I know of love — and only love. Love can do all things.
— St Thérèse of Lisieux
October 1st, is the feast day of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, more popularly known as St Thérèse of Lisieux, "the Little Flower." Although just an obscure cloistered Carmelite nun, she has achieved universal appeal since her death in 1897. 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 for us to follow. Saint Pius X called St. Thérèse the "greatest saint of modern times."

Marie Thérèse Martin was born at Alençon, France on January 2, 1873, the youngest of five daughters. Her father, Louis Martin, was a watchmaker, and her mother, Zélie Martin, who died of breast cancer when Thérèse was four, was a lace maker. (On October 18, 2015, Pope Francis canonized Louis Martin and Marie Zélie Guerin Martin saints.) Thérèse was brought up in a model Catholic home. The Martins attended Mass daily, prayed and fasted, visited the elderly and the sick, and welcomed the poor into their home. All five of the Martin's surviving daughters would enter religious life. While still a child, Thérèse felt the attraction of the cloister, and at fifteen obtained permission to enter the Carmel of Lisieux.

For the next nine years she lived a very ordinary religious life. There are no miracles, exploits or austerities recorded of her. She attained a very high degree of holiness by carrying out her ordinary daily duties with perfect fidelity, having a childlike confidence in God's providence and merciful love and being ready to be at the service of others at all times. She also had a great love of the Church and a zeal for the conversion of souls. She prayed especially for priests.

Click here to learn more about the life and mission of St. Thérèse.

Thérèse's last years were marked by tremendous hardship, which she endured without complaint. She saw her suffering as part of her spiritual journey. On June 9, 1895, the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, she offered herself as a sacrificial victim to the merciful Love of God. The following year, after a strict Lenten fast, Thérèse went to bed on the eve of Good Friday and experienced a joyous ecstasy. "Oh! how sweet this memory really is!", she wrote, "I had scarcely laid my head upon the pillow when I felt something like a bubbling stream mounting to my lips. I didn't know what it was." On the verge of intense suffering, Sœur Thérèse understood this to be a mysterious visitation of her most divine Spouse.

The next morning, she began coughing up blood — a sure sign of tuberculosis. In Thérèse's day, developing tuberculosis meant an inexorably slow painful death. She recorded her thoughts in her journal: "I thought immediately of the joyful thing that I had to learn, so I went over to the window. I was able to see that I was not mistaken. Ah! my soul was filled with a great consolation; I was interiorly persuaded that Jesus, on the anniversary of His own death, wanted to have me hear His first call!"

Thérèse died of consumption on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24, and was canonized in 1925. She has never ceased to fulfill her promise: "I will pass my heaven in doing good on earth." Her interior life is known through her bestselling autobiography, Story of a Soul. This spiritual memoir was taken from three manuscripts she wrote in the last years of her life and published a year after her death. Pope Saint John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church in 1997. The profound spiritual insights contained in her writings have influenced many.

(St. Thérèse is the patroness of: florists; foreign missions; missionaries; pilots; against tuberculosis; AIDS sufferers; illness; loss of parents; Australia; France; Russia; Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska; Diocese of Fresno, California; Diocese of Juneau, Alaska; Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado.)

Thérèse just before
entering the Carmelites
St Thérèse's 'Little Way' (to Eternal Beatitude)

Six years after entering the cloister, determined to become a saint, Thérèse saw the limitations of her efforts. She remained diminutive, far from the selfless love she aspired to. It was on this very littleness that Thérèse learned to ask for God's help. This spiritual mindset of humility and simplicity is the 'Little Way. St.Thérèse describes it in her autobiography:
I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way—very short and very straight, a little way that is wholly new. We live in an age of inventions; nowadays the rich need not trouble to climb the stairs, they have lifts instead. Well, I mean to try and find a lift by which I may be raised unto God, for I am too tiny to climb the steep stairway of perfection. [...] Thine Arms, then, O Jesus, are the lift which must raise me up even unto Heaven. To get there I need not grow; on the contrary, I must remain little, I must become still less.
Collect Prayer

O God, who opens your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of Saint Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed. 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.

The Story of St Thérèse of Lisieux

September 29, 2016

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2016 | Day 9

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 30, 2016

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 Nine

Loving God, St. Therese never doubted that her life had meaning. Help me to see how I can bless and love everyone in my life. Especially…

I love your people, Lord. Help me to love them more!
I reflect you to the world, Lord. Help me to reflect you more clearly!
I rely on you, Lord. Help me to rely on you more!
I accept your will, Lord. Help me to accept your will every day!
I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!
I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!
I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
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 in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Click for more about this novena and daily email reminders sent to your inbox.

Saint Jerome, Latin Father and Doctor of the Church

St. Jerome
Saint Jerome and the Angel, Simon Vouet, c. 1622/1625.
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.
— St. Jerome

September 30th, is the feast day of Saint Jerome, one of the four original doctors of the Latin Church, who is best known for translating the Bible from Greek (the Septuagint) into Latin (the Vulgate). He is widely regarded as the most learned of the Latin Fathers. A remarkable scholar and a sometimes prickly man, St. Jerome nevertheless believed deeply in the mercy of Christ.
____________________________________

One of the greatest Biblical scholars of Christendom, Saint Jerome was born of Christian parents at Stridon in Dalmatia around the year 345. Educated at the local school, he then studied rhetoric in Rome for eight years, before returning to Aquilea to set up a community of ascetics. When that community broke up after three years Jerome went to the east. He met an old hermit named Malchus, who inspired the saint to live in a bare cell, dressed in sackcloth, studying the Scriptures.

He learned Hebrew from a rabbi. Then he returned to Antioch and was reluctantly ordained priest. With his bishop he visited Constantinople and became friendly with Saints Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory of Nyssa. And then in 382 he went again to Rome, to become the personal secretary of Pope Damasus. Here he met his dearest friends, a wealthy woman called Paula, her daughter Eustochium and another wealthy woman named Marcella.

Here too he began his finest work. Commissioned by the pope, he began to revise the Latin version of the psalms and the New Testament, with immense care and scholarship. Jerome eventually translated the whole of the Bible into the Latin version which is known as the Vulgate. But when Damasus died, his enemies forced the saint to leave Rome.

Accompanied by Paula and Eustochium, Jerome went to Bethlehem. There he lived for thirty-four years till his death in 420, building a monastery over which he presided and a convent headed first by Paula and after her death by Eustochium. The saint set up a hospice for the countless pilgrims to that place. His scholarship, his polemics, his treatises and letters often provoked anger and always stimulated those who read them. 'Plato located the soul of man in the head,' he wrote, 'Christ located it in the heart.'

Excerpted from A Calendar of Saints by James Bentley.

Prayer of Saint Jerome for Christ's Mercy

O Lord, show Your mercy to me and gladden my heart. I am like the man on the way to Jericho who was overtaken by robbers, wounded and left for dead. O Good Samaritan, come to my aid. I am like the sheep that went astray. O Good Shepherd, seek me out and bring me home in accord with Your will. Let me dwell in Your house all the days of my life and praise You for ever and ever with those who are there. Amen.

(St. Jerome is the patron saint of: Archeologists, archivists, Bible scholars, librarians, libraries, schoolchildren, students, translators.)

Saint Gregory the Great's Homily on the Archangels of Scripture for the Feast of the Archangels

 Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

"You should be aware that the word 'angel' denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels. And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform. In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily be known. But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they came among us. Thus, Michael means 'Who is like God'; Gabriel is 'The Strength of God'; and Raphael is 'God’s Remedy.'

Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power. So also our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying: I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High. He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.

So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle. Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy."

Excerpted from a homily on the Gospels by St. Gregory the Great from the Divine Office for the Memorial of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels.

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2016 | Day 8

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 29, 2016

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 Eight

Loving God, You loved St. Therese with a powerful love and made her a source of strength to those who had lost faith in You. Help me to pray with confidence for those in my life who do not believe they can be loved.

I reflect you to the world, Lord. Help me to reflect you more clearly!
I rely on you, Lord. Help me to rely on you more!
I accept your will, Lord. Help me to accept your will every day!
I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!
I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!
I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
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 in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Click for more about this novena and daily email reminders sent to your inbox.

September 28, 2016

Feast of the Archangels — Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

The Archangels — Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

September 29th, the Church celebrates the feast of the archangels. Angels are purely incorporeal, rational beings, extensions of God himself, personifying His grace, majesty and intellect. The Angelic Doctor explains that each individual angel is its own species within the genus "angel". Archangels have important roles in the history of salvation. There is no doubt that the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael — the only angels named in Sacred Scripture, have been instrumental in advancing God's divine plan, both in heaven and on earth.

Saint Michael 

St. Michael, the "Prince of the Heavenly Host", is second only to the Mother of God in leading the angels. His name in Hebrew means "Who is like God?". It was Michael who commanded heaven's forces in casting down Lucifer and the fallen angels into hell. In 1886, after receiving a prophetic vision of the evil to be visited upon the world in the 20th century, Pope Leo XIII instituted a prayer invoking St. Michael's protection. Scripture mentions him four times (in Daniel 10:13-21 and 12:1, in Jude 1:9 and in Revelation 12:7-9).

The Church recognizes four distinct offices of St. Michael; 1.) to oppose Satan, 2.) to defend the souls of the faithful against the power of Satan, especially at the hour of death. 3.) to champion God's people, 4.) to accompany souls to their particular judgment, bring them to purgatory, and present them to God following their purgation before entering heaven.

Patron saint: against temptations, against powers of evil, artists, radiologists, bakers, bankers, battle, cemeteries, endangered children, dying, emergency medical technicians, holy death, paramedics, paratroopers, police officers, sailors, the sick, security forces, soldiers, and against storms at sea, among others.

Saint Gabriel

Saint Gabriel's name means "God's strength". He is mentioned in Scripture four times. Gabriel is the archangel most affiliated with the Incarnation and earthly ministry of Christ. Twice in Luke's Gospel, he foretells the arrival of consequential figures: the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zacharias (Luke 1:11–25) and the birth of the Savior to the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:26–38.).

Tradition holds that Gabriel appeared to Saint Joseph and to the shepherds, and that he "strengthened" Christ during his agony in the garden of Gethsemane.

Patron saint: ambassadors, broadcasting, childbirth, clergy, communications, diplomats, messengers, philatelists, postal workers, public relations, radio workers, secular clergy, stamp collectors and telecommunications, among others.

Saint Raphael

All that we know of Saint Raphael, whose name means "God has healed", comes from the Book of Tobit in which he heals Tobias' blindness. His office, according to popular piety, is that of healing and facilitating acts of mercy. He is affiliated with young people venturing into world, particularly concerning learning and marriage.

The angel in John's Gospel who descended to the pool of Bethesda and imbued it with healing powers so that the first to enter it after it moved would be healed of whatever infirmity they possessed is identified with Raphael (John 5:1-4).

Patron saint: physicians, medical workers, love, lovers, mental illness, nurses, pharmacists, shepherds, against sickness, therapists, travelers, young people; young people leaving home for the first time, the blind, happy meetings, matchmakers, Christian marriage, and Catholic studies, among others.

Almighty and everliving God, who disposes in marvelous order ministries both angelic and human, graciously grant that our life on earth may be defended by those who watch over us as they minister perpetually to 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.

September 27, 2016

Saint Wenceslaus, Duke of Bohemia, Martyr

St. Wenceslas
September 28th, is the optional memorial of Saint Wenceslaus of Bohemia (c. 907-929). He was the son of Vratislav I, Duke of Bohemia, whose family was converted by Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, and Drahomira, daughter of a pagan chief; she was baptized on her wedding day, but never abandoned her pagan beliefs. His paternal grandmother, Saint Ludmila of Bohemia, was Wenceslaus' teacher. She instructed him in the faith and to be a wise leader. It was from her that Wenceslas received his commitment to imitate Christ. He completed his education at the university at Budweis.

When Wenceslas was 13, his father was killed during a pagan reprisal against Christianity, and his grandmother became regent. Jealous of the influence that Ludmila had on Wenceslas, Drahomíra conspired to have her killed. Ludmila was placed under house arrest. A short time later, three henchmen strangled her with her veil while she prayed in her private chapel. After Ludmila’s murder, Drahomíra assumed the role of regent and immediately began persecuting the Christian population. So arbitrary and cruel were her actions, that Wenceslaus was compelled, on behalf of his oppressed subjects, to succeed her posthaste.

In 925, at the age of 18, the good king Wenceslaus (as he is referred to in the popular Christmas carol) ascended to the throne. A devout Christian, and gifted ruler, he worked in collaboration with the Church to end the persecution of Christians, convert pagans, build churches and return exiled priests. Wenceslaus was renowned for his selfless charity. He was a father to his subjects, generous toward orphans, widows, and the poor. He carried wood to the houses of the needy, attended the funerals of the poor, ransomed captives, and visited those in prison. Filled with a deep reverence toward the clergy, he attended Mass daily.

The more Wenceslas was loved and honored, the more his enemies hated him. In September 935, nobles opposed to Wenceslas allied with his mother and younger brother, Boleslas, to assassinate him. His martyrdom is recorded in Lives of the Saints: "Boleslas had become father of a son, and Wenceslas was invited to be present at the baptism of the young prince. Although the holy king had reason to suppose that this invitation covered other intentions, he accepted it, in order not to manifest any distrust of his brother. Having gone to confession and Holy Communion, he went fearlessly to the palace of Boleslas. He was received with great honor and magnificently entertained. At midnight, before the banquet was ended, the Saint quietly left the hall, and went, according to his custom, into the Church. Drahomira seized this opportunity, and calling Boleslas aside, told him that the hour was now come when he could revenge himself and make the royal crown his own. … Seizing his sword, he [Boleslas] hastened, with some attendants, into the Church and stabbed his holy brother with such brutal force, that the blood bespattered the wall, where it is yet to be seen at this day."

Before he died, Wenceslaus forgave his brother and asked for God's mercy on his soul. While his death was for political reasons, Wenceslaus is considered a martyr since the politics arose from the Faith. The Roman Martyrology says of him: "In Bohemia, St. Wenceslas, duke of Bohemia and martyr, renowned for holiness and miracles. Being murdered by the deceit of his brother, he went triumphantly to heaven." The shrine of King Wenceslas is the site of numerous miracles. He is the patron saint of the Czech Republic where his feast is a national holiday, and is the first Slav to be canonized. O God, who taught the Martyr St. Wenceslaus to place the heavenly Kingdom before any earthly one, grant through his prayers that we, in denying ourselves, may hold fast to you with all our heart.

Last Words of Filipino Martyr Saint Lorenzo Ruiz

St. Lorenzo Ruiz

St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino to be canonized a saint, was ordered to recant his Catholic faith or face torture and certain death. He had heard the screams and witnessed the horror as his companions were brutalized. Even while being crushed to death, he refused to renounce his faith. These are his last words:
I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for God; Had I a thousand lives, all these to Him shall I offer.
St. Lorenzo Ruiz, help us be faithful even unto the last measure of our lives.

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2016 | Day 7

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 28, 2016

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 Seven

Loving God, St. Therese offered to You her weakness. Help me to see in my weakness an opportunity to rely completely on you.

I rely on you, Lord. Help me to rely on you more!
I accept your will, Lord. Help me to accept your will every day!
I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!
I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!
I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
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 in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Click for more about this novena and daily email reminders sent to your inbox.

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs

St. Lorenzo Ruiz
On September 28th, the Church celebrates the optional memorial of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions. Ruiz was born in Manila, around the year 1600, the son of a Chinese father and a Tagala mother, both devout Catholics. His spiritual formation included serving as an altar boy and sacristan in the Dominican run parish church of Saint Gabriel in Binondo.

Educated by Dominican friars, Ruiz earned the title of escribano (calligrapher) due to his expert penmanship. He spoke Chinese, Tagalog and Spanish [the latter he learned from the Dominicans]. He married Rosario, a native, and they had two sons and a daughter. Ruiz was a member of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary. He is the first Filipino saint.

In 1636, his life was altered abruptly when he was falsely accused of killing a Spaniard while working as a clerk. Little else is known about the charge except the testimony of two Dominican priests that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him." If captured, as a Catholic felon, Ruiz faced brutal torture and certain death.

He sought asylum on a ship carrying three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet, and Miguel de Aozaraza, a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Only at sea did they learn they were going to Japan where Catholics at the time were systematically persecuted.

They landed at Okinawa, were questioned, arrested, and then taken to Nagasaki. There they were subjected to a series of unspeakable tortures: After the forced consumption of huge amounts of water, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs which guards then stepped, on causing water to shoot violently from their mouth, nose and ears. Bamboo needles were inserted under their fingernails and pounded into the quick. Most of the martyrs succumbed to these torments. Those who remained, including Ruiz, were put to death by being hung upside down over a pit. This was extremely painful: though the victim could recant and gain release. Ruiz refused to do so, and died from blood loss and suffocation. His remains were cremated and thrown into the sea.

There were nine priests, two religious, two sisters, and three laymen, (among the latter, Lawrence Ruiz) who received the crown of martyrdom. St. John Paul II’s homily for the Beatification of Lorenzo Ruiz extols Ruiz’s heroic witness: "The example of Lorenzo Ruiz, the son of a Chinese father and Tagala mother, reminds us that everyone's life and the whole of one's life must be at Christ's disposal. Christianity means daily giving, in response to the gift of Christ who came into the world so that all might have life and have it to the full. ...To die for the faith is a gift to some; to live the faith is a call for all." Grant us, we pray, Lord God, the same perseverance shown by your holy Martyrs Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and his companions in serving you and their neighbor, since those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness are forever blessed in your heavenly Kingdom.

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for October 2016

Pope Francis' coat of arms Please remember the Holy Father Pope Francis' intentions in prayer through the month of October:

Universal: Journalists


That journalists, in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for truth and a strong sense of ethics.

Evangelization: World Mission Day

That World Mission Day may renew within all Christian communities the joy of the Gospel and the responsibility to announce it.

September 26, 2016

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2016 | Day 6

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 27, 2016

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 Six

Loving God, St. Therese experienced every day as a gift from You. She saw it as a time to love You through other people. May I, too, see every day as an opportunity to say yes to You.

I accept your will, Lord. Help me to accept your will every day!
I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!
I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!
I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
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 in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Click for more about this novena and daily email reminders sent to your inbox.

Saint Vincent de Paul, Founder, Apostle of Charity

St. Vincent de Paul
September 27th, is the memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul (1576 -1660). He was born in Gascony, France, a poor farming community, the third of six children to Jean and Bertrande de Paul. Although he exhibited an early predilection for reading and writing, his formal education began at 15, when he was sent to a Franciscan seminary to study theology. Vincent's interest in the priesthood was largely to establish a successful ministry and obtain a benefice, with which he could retire and support his family. Providential experiences would move the future saint’s heart to help the impoverished, the sick, the enslaved, the abandoned and the marginalized. Far from living a comfortable life, St. Vincent undertook the apostolic work of charity instead.

Accepted into the local Franciscan seminary, he excelled immensely. Eventually, Vincent tutored the children of local nobles, and used the proceeds to continue his theological studies at the University of Toulose. He was ordained in 1600. In 1605, he was captured by Moorish pirates on a ship traveling from Marseilles to Narbone and sold as a slave in Tunis [Africa]. After two years in captivity he and his master [whom Vincent converted] escaped and returned to France.

At Avignon, Vincent continued his studies. While there he became a chaplain to the Count of Goigny and was placed in charge of charitable efforts for the poor. It was the Countess de Gondi (whose servant he had helped) who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among the poor, the vassals and tenants and the country people in general. Vincent was too humble to accept leadership at first, but after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.

Later, Vincent established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Sisters of Charity, "Whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city." He organized the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1200 galley slaves from North Africa. He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse, and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and instrumental in establishing seminaries.

St. Vincent worked tirelessly to help those in need. He died at Saint Lazarus's house, Paris on September 27, 1660. Pope Benedict XIII beatified him in 1729. On June 16, 1737 he was canonized by Pope Leo XIII who declared St. Vincent the patron saint of charitable societies. His motto was: "God sees you." O God, who for the relief of the poor and the formation of the clergy endowed the Priest St. Vincent de Paul with apostolic virtues, grant, we pray, that, afire with that same spirit, we may love what he loved and put into practice what he taught.

September 25, 2016

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2016 | Day 5

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 26, 2016

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 Five

Loving God, You gave St. Therese the gift of forgiving others even when she felt hurt and betrayed. Help me to be able to forgive others who have wounded me, especially…

I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!
I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!
I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
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 in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Click for more about this novena and daily email reminders sent to your inbox.

Optional Memorial of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs

The martyrdom of Sts. Cosmas and Damian
Beheading Of Saint Cosmas And Saint Damian, Fra Angelico, c. 1439.

September 26th, is the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian, 3rd century martyrs, and brothers born in Arabia, who became skilled physicians, greatly revered in both the Orthodox and Latin rites. Little is known about them, but popular piety attests they were twin siblings and medical doctors, never charging a fee for their services. For this they were lauded, "Unmercenaries". By virtue of their charity and altruistic healing, they led many to the Christian faith. The esteem in which they are held and the antiquity of their veneration indicate the memory of early Christians, who after the Diocletian persecution, received a new cult of witnesses.

As gifted physicians, Sts. Cosmas and Damian obeyed the words of our Savior: “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” (Matthew 10:8) Numerous cures resulted from their intervention. On one occasion, they were summoned to a grievously ill woman named Palladia, whose condition was seemingly hopeless. Through the brother’s fervent prayer, the Lord healed the deadly disease and Palladia’s heath was restored. Immediately, she got up from her bed and gave thanks to God. According to legend, their most famous healing was grafting the leg from a recently deceased Ethiopian to replace another patient's cancerous leg. This miraculous procedure is depicted in many paintings and illuminations showing Sts. Cosmas and Damian performing the surgery.

Their renown in the Christian communities of Asia Minor was such that when the persecution under Diocletian began, Cosmas and Damian were targeted. In 287, by order of, Lysias, the Prefect of Cilicia, Cosmas and Damian were arrested and ordered to deny their faith. They refused and underwent a series of tortures including stoning, crucifixion and being shot by arrows. They received the crown of martyrdom by beheading. Their younger brothers, Anthimus, Leontius and Euprepius, who were close to them throughout life, shared in their martyrdom.

The Miraculous Intercession of Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Many miracles were worked following the martyrdoms of Sts. Cosmas and Damian. The Orthodox Church recounts several intercessions owed to them, including this one: There lived in Thereman, near the church of Cosmas and Damian, a man named Malchus. One day, he departed on an extended journey, leaving his wife behind. Before doing so, he prayed to Sts. Cosmas and Damian, entrusting her to their heavenly protection. A demon assumed the appearance of one of Malchus’ friends in an attempt to kill her. The demon called on the woman, saying that Malchus had sent him to bring her to him. Believing him, she went along. The demon brought her to a solitary place with the intention of ending her life. Sensing mortal danger was imminent, the woman prayed to God for help.

Suddenly, two fearsome men appeared. The devil let go of the woman, fleeing in such haste, he fell off a cliff. The men accompanied the woman home where she thanked them effusively saying “My deliverers, to whom I shall be grateful to the end of my days, what are your names?” They replied, “We are the servants of Christ, Cosmas and Damian,” before disappearing. The woman joyously told everyone about what had happened to her. In the church of Cosmas and Damian, she went up to the icon of the holy brothers, and Glorifying God, tearfully offered prayers of thanksgiving for her deliverance. From that on, time the holy brothers were seen as protectors of the inviolability of marriage, and conjugal harmony.

Together with Saint Luke, Sts. Cosmas and Damian are the patron saints of doctors and the medical profession. They are invoked in the Canon of the Mass, in the prayer known as the, Communicantes, and in the Litany of Saints. Their example as men of profound faith and science learning exemplifies God's blessing upon the art of healing and that respect for every form of science, which is an important part of Christian tradition. May you be magnified, Almighty Lord, by the memory of your Sts. Cosmas and Damian, for with providence beyond words, you have conferred upon them everlasting glory, and on us, your unfailing love.

Homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 2, 2016, Year C

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

The prophet Habakkuk
(Click here for today’s readings)

During the last sixty or seventy years there has been among us a tremendous loss in our willingness to trust others. Beginning with the Vietnam War and immediately thereafter with Watergate, our confidence and faith in our governmental leaders has demonstrably diminished. The huge increases in divorce are symptomatic of our general loss of trust in others. It was once believed that science and technology would make our world a better place, and education was supposed to be the key to making us better people. Education was supposed to cause us to respect others and treat others better than had been the case in past human history. But they all have failed us; we don’t trust them much any more to improve our human lot.

Presently we find ourselves with diminishing faith in our political institutions. Both the Congress and the Presidency are at all-time lows in terms of polls measuring the confidence that American voters have in them. In recent years there has been a crisis of faith in our Church leaders although that seems to be turning around due to the leadership of Pope Francis. Everywhere we hear of elevating hopes because of Pope Francis and his vision. Truly he is a good father figure for all Catholics… and some non-Catholics as well.

Then there is the faith required for successful human relations. Our everyday dealings with others depend on trust. Unfortunately, people betray that trust, either by momentary weakness, or by premeditated deception, or when they run hidden agendas on us. The corporate scandals of recent years show us that humans can deceive in monstrous ways. Because of such sad experiences, as we grow older, we become more circumspect and tend to have only a few really close friends. If we are not to wind up completely isolated we need to deliberately cultivate trust and refuse to abandon faith in others and have greater faith in God’s providence.

The prophet Habakkuk lived about 600 years before Christ, around the time of the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem. The Jews were in desperate shape, threatened by their enemies and falling apart internally. Their moral fiber was unraveling. Corruption beset them. Their religious practices had diminished to the point where they were only empty and formal rites which they merely externally observed. Spiritually they were in near collapse.

Habakkuk had the temerity to call God into an accounting, crying out:

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
    so that justice is perverted.

How many of us have heard those words in our own day? How many of us have heard them whispered in our own hearts and souls?

If we mature enough spiritually to cast cynicism aside, if we reject constant mistrust of others, and if we throw away our perpetual attitudes of disbelief, life will quickly change for us. We will begin to see others, reality and life in a whole new way. Light will enter into our dark world. We will have moved mountains, the mountains of darkness that smother our hearts and souls.

One of the wonderful gifts that comes with being a priest is the continual encounters we priests have with people of faith. Many times I go into a home or into a hospital room where a person is dying. You might think that this would be a terrible scene, something very difficult to do. Usually, however, it is not. People of faith, in the midst of tears, are most often ready to let go and trust God to care for their loved ones. Many times the dying person himself or herself has such a deep faith that he or she radiates a peace in what would otherwise be empty despair and paralyzing fear of death. Many a priest realizes that he is among people whose service to the Lord is so strong that they serve the Lord even in crises, particularly in their own personal sufferings and crises. So often I realize that these same people have spent their lives saying their prayers, performing acts of Christian charity, coming to Mass, and receiving the Sacraments and living beautiful lives in their confidence and their faith in God. Their faith life is so strong in their daily lives that it is their sure support in all of their times of crises.

Let’s you and I now stand in the shoes of the apostles who in today’s gospel account said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” And let’s also hear Him say to us “If your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” In other words Jesus is telling them, “Don’t let yourselves off the hook! You have plenty of faith to accomplish all I ask.” This text is often misinterpreted as meaning, “O ye of little faith!” as a put-down of the disciples for not even having the faith of a tiny seed. On the contrary! The disciples are suggesting that God needs to give them more faith. Jesus tells them that they have plenty of faith already. The text of the original Greek is clear that the sense of the “if” clause is the one that implies that the situation is already true. “If you have faith – and you DO!” is its meaning. It takes a faith just the size of the teensiest mustard seen to move aside mountains of cynicism and despair. Jesus is telling us, “You have plenty of faith to accomplish all I ask, so stop making excuses for yourselves.”

Today we need to take hold of the truth that we do have faith and that if we dare to use it we can change our lives. He’s telling us that we really don’t need more faith, we simply have it; it’s God’s gift to us and we should rely on it. If we do, we will be useful and productive.

 If Republicans and Democrats recover faith in each other’s best intentions and if the President and the Congress do likewise, then there are no limits to the mountains they can move and to what they can accomplish. Do we believe in ourselves and in God, or do we rely only on our own power and our own politics?

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2016 | Day 4

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 25, 2016

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 Four

Loving God, You taught St. Therese how to find You through the "little way" of humility and simplicity. Grant that I may never miss the grace hidden in humble service to others.

I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!
I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
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 in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Click for more about this novena and daily email reminders sent to your inbox.

Homily for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 25, 2016, Year C

Orthodox Icon — Parable of the rich man and Lazarus

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

(Click here for today’s readings)

You and I are engaged in a common struggle, a struggle against complacency. The struggle is between two spirits, one good; the other evil — spirits that roam about deep within us, below the level of our consciousness. One is the spirit of generosity and self-sacrifice; the other is the spirit of complacency and self-satisfaction.

You and I share this common struggle against spiritual inertia and smugness in the loneliness of our hidden souls as we strive to have a modest share and portion of the goodness of God. It’s never easy because the devils we fight against in our souls jam and clog our efforts with the sticky, gooey substance of cotton-candy rationalizations. The devils that beset us are always hiding their vices under the appearances of things that seem attractive and tasteful, in many cases the feeling that we deserve the abundance that is ours. The devil always seeks to mire us down and lead us into the morass of comfortable complacency and to lull us into spiritual sleep, giving us a special narcotic, the drug called self-ism, in order to control our souls.

It is into this mired battleground that Jesus drops his bombshells and says: “If your foot is your undoing, then cut it off. If your hand is your difficulty, cut it off. If your eye is your downfall, then pluck it out.” These words are like bright flares that drop out of the thick blackness of a quiet nighttime battlefield to illumine the workings of our ancient enemy who lurks in the sleep of our darkness. And what do they reveal? Indolence, sloth, laziness, and a jaded complacency, not of body but of spirit, spiritual elitism and an attitude that “we’ve got it made in the shade.” Along with these many feel that they are in full possession of the Holy Spirit; that they are the righteous and that the others around them are hypocrites. The spiritually complacent feel that they and God have it all figured out and they don’t need anyone else for salvation. And what does Jesus say? “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of needle that it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven!”

I want now to pay attention to that word “rich”, because Jesus is not talking just about a person’s economic condition or financial net worth as such (although it may, at times, apply). There are those who believe that the material symbols of success they have in this world are the signs of God’s favor. Some preachers even preach a message telling us that if you’re “in the Lord” then all will go well for you, even in your checkbook.

We need to understand the word “rich” as it applies to what we rely upon. What do we trust in, and upon what (or whom) we place our faith? God or something else? In this regard we must always realize that that this world’s symbols of success are not signs of salvation or of God’s favor upon us. Too many have not yet arrived at the realization that they have come to be like the rich man in today’s Gospel. He was self-satisfied, smug, and complacent because he enjoyed material success in this world’s goods. Being so self-absorbed, he was unconcerned about others, unaware of the beggar at his front gate.

In today’s gospel account Jesus once again gives sight to those who are blinded by self-satisfaction, asking us to take a good hard look at ourselves. Have we, He asks, been drugged with the narcotic of complacency and over confidence? What are we doing with the gifts He has placed on the banquet table of life? For the truth is that while faith and salvation are God’s free gift to us, a gift which we cannot merit or earn on our own, it is also true that when it comes to virtues, we have to work on them. We can’t just sit back and wait for God to give virtues to us. God gives us His gifts, what we do with them can become our virtues. We have the responsibility to develop them. Human decisions and struggle are involved. We are in a spiritual combat with Principalities and Powers who attempt to seduce us with spiritual complacency. We need to realize that we have a struggle on our hands. God has offered, we must respond

Edmund Burke, and Irish-born English statesman who, in England’s Parliament pleaded the cause of the American colonists just prior to our Revolution, is reported to have said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Those words are apt not only when it comes to voting, politics, and the struggle for freedom, social justice and peace, but they also apply when it comes to our own souls. Evil triumphs when we neglect our souls.

God has constructed a spiritual economy of salvation wherein we find salvation not alone and in our individual relationship with God, but when we find ourselves in belonging to others in a community of need. We absolutely need others for our salvation. In the Gospel parable the truly poor man was the rich man who in his complacency failed to notice the beggar at his gates. He was the one who was spiritually impoverished and bankrupt. Stated another way, it is the rich and affluent who are in need; they need the poor for their own salvation. For their own salvation they need to care for the poor, those out on the margins of society, those who are not privileged.

And so we ought to look into ourselves once again. Who in our lives is seeking the crumbs that fall from our table? A teen who is dying for just one good word of affirmation from you, hungering for just one positive statement about him or her? Starving for just a little hug? Or maybe it’s a mother who is being treated all of the time like she’s just the cleaning lady, or the household maid? Or perhaps it’s a spouse quietly waiting to hear the words: “I love you”. Or a long neglected friend who we’ve taken for granted and hasn’t heard from us in a long, long time, or someone who is lonely and longs for just a few crumbs of our friendship. Just who or what needs our attention after we’re aroused from our fat-cat complacency that sleeps deep within our soul?

It is true that God has given us much. It is true that Jesus Christ has given us unmerited and free salvation and that He does really care for us and is going to take care of us. But it is also true that He expects us to give to others just as freely and generously, even when they don’t deserve it — to give them love and forgiveness, care and concern, especially when they don’t deserve it. For in all of life we simply must follow the wise old principle that tells us: “We must pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon us.” But how can we if we are so busy feasting in our complacency that we fail to see who’s outside the front door of our hearts, or just beyond the gate of our individualistic privacy wanting us to let them in?

September 24, 2016

What Our Next President Could Learn From George Washington

George Washington

In the first inaugural address, President George Washington thanked the Divine Creator on behalf of his countrymen in declaring liberty a blessing from God:

"Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States."

Washington's humility before God, "that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect", is in stark contrast to many politicians today. May our next president embrace the same reverence and gratitude toward God that the father of our country so deeply held and eloquently proclaimed.

September 23, 2016

Blessed Pope Paul VI on Saint Padre Pio's Example

St. Padre Pio

On February 20, 1971, three years after the death of Padre Pio, Pope Paul VI, speaking to the Superiors of the Capuchin Order, said of him:
Look what fame he had, what a worldwide following gathered around him! But why? Perhaps because he was a philosopher? Because he was wise? Because he had resources at his disposal? Because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from dawn to dusk and was – it is not easy to say it – one who bore the wounds of our Lord. He was a man of prayer and suffering.

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2016 | Day 3

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 24, 2016

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 Three

Loving God, you gave St. Therese the ability to see You in the ordinary routine of each day. Help me to be aware of your presence in the everyday events of my life.

I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!
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 in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Click for more about this novena and daily email reminders sent to your inbox.

September 22, 2016

St. Padre Pio — His Wisdom in 25 Quotations

St. Padre Pio

St. Pio of  Pietrelcina was a humble friar whose holiness and patient suffering won many souls for Christ. Pope Benedict XVI said he "'prolonged' the work of Christ: announcing the Gospel, remitting sins and healing the sick in body and spirit". Here are twenty-five quotations from this much beloved saint illustrating his wisdom, humanity and deep spiritual insight.
In the uproar of the passions and of reverses of fortune, we are upheld by the comforting hope of God’s inexhaustible mercy. 
***
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.
***
God leaves you in that darkness for his glory; here is a great opportunity for your spiritual progress. 
***
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.
***
Happiness is only found in heaven.
***
The greater your sufferings, the greater God’s love for you.
***
Be certain that the more the attacks of the devil increase, that much closer is God to your soul.
*** 
You complain because the same trials are constantly returning. But look here, what have you to fear? Are you afraid of the divine craftsman who wants to perfect His masterpiece in this way? Would you like to come from the hands of such a magnificent Artist as a mere sketch and no more?
***
Bless the Lord for your suffering and accept to drink the chalice of Gethsemane.
***
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.
***
Suffering born in a Christian way is the condition that God, the author of all grace and of all the gifts that lead to salvation, has established for granting us glory.
***
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!
***
Remember that we cannot triumph in battle if not through prayer; the choice is yours.
*** 
You say you are anxious about the future, but don’t you know that the Lord is with you always and that our enemy has no power over one who has resolved to belong entirely to Jesus?
***
When we suffer, Jesus is closer to us.
***
When you feel despised, imitate the kingfisher, who builds its nest on the masts of ships. That is to say, raise yourself up above the earth, elevate yourselves with your mind and heart to God, who is the only one who can console you and give you strength to withstand the trial in a holy way.
***
Faith guides even us and we follow its sure light on the way which conducts us to God and His homeland.
***
Fear nothing. On the contrary, consider yourself very fortunate to have been made worthy to participate in the sufferings of the Man-God.
***
The best consolation is that which comes from prayer.
***
I want to be only a poor friar who prays - if God sees blemishes even in the angels, can you imagine what He sees in me!
***
Always humble yourself lovingly before God and man, because God speaks to those who are truly humble of heart, and enriches them with His gifts.
***
In order to attract us, the Lord grants us many graces that we believe can easily obtain Heaven for us. We do not know, however, that in order to grow, we need hard bread: the cross, humiliation, trials and denials.
***
Every Holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvelous effects, abundant spiritual and material graces which we, ourselves, do not know... It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!
*** 
It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass.
***
Our Lord sometimes makes you feel the weight of the cross. This weight seems unbearable but you carry it because in His love and mercy, the Lord helps you and gives you strength.

Novena to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 2016 | Day 2

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

September 23, 2016

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 in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Click for more about this novena and daily email reminders sent to your inbox.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, Priest, Stigmatic, Mystic, and the Miraculous Abilities Ascribed to Him

St. Pio of Pietrelcina
September 23rd, is the memorial of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, (1887-1968) better known as Padre Pio, 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 stigma — the divine marks of predilection — from our Lord’s Passion and Death. 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 Chapuchins 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 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.

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

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.

The humble Capuchin friar was renowned for his personal sanctity, miraculous interventions, and prayerful celebration of the Divine Liturgy. As word spread, Padre Pio himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. 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 on the public celebration of Mass, saying "I have not been badly disposed toward Padre Pio, but I have been badly informed." Soon afterward, all of 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 St. John Paul II: "[St. 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.