Thursday, April 27, 2006

Saint Teresa of Avila

Teresa was born in Avila in Spain. As a little girl in her parents' rich home, Teresa and her brother Rodrigo loved to read the lives of the Saints and Martyrs. They felt that the martyrs got to heaven an easy way.

The two children set out secretly to go to the land of the Moors. As they walked along, they prayed that they might die for Christ. But they had not gotten far when they met an uncle. He took them back to their worried mother at once. They then decided to be hermits in their garden. This didn't work out either. They could not get enough stones together to build their huts.

Teresa herself wrote down these amusing stories of her childhood. But when she grew to be a teenager she changed. She read so many novels and foolish romances that she lost much of her love for prayer. She began to think more of dressing up to look pretty. But after she recovered from a bad illness, Teresa read a book about the great Saint Jerome.

Then and there, she made up her mind to become a bride of Christ. As a nun, Teresa often found it hard to pray. She had poor health and also wasted time every day in long, foolish conversations. One day, in front of a picture of Jesus, Teresa felt great sorrow that she did not love God more. She started then to live for Jesus alone, no matter what sacrifice had to be made.

In return for her love, the Lord gave Teresa the privilege of hearing him talk to her. She also began to see visions and Jesuit and Dominican priests came to see if this was true. They were convinced and declared that the visions were holy and true.

She learned to pray in a marvelous way, too. Saint Teresa of Avila is famous for having opened new Carmelite convents. These convents were filled with sisters who wanted to live holy lives. They made many sacrifices for Jesus with Teresa herself giving them the example. She prayed with great love and worked hard at her duties in the convent.

Teresa was a great leader and true lover of Jesus and his Church. She died in 1582. We celebrate her feast day on October 15th.

Her many writings show her great love of God. Teresa wrote these beautiful words: "Let nothing trouble you, nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough."

Saint Teresa taught that we must have a great trust in God's care for us. She wrote that a person who has God, will need nothing; God alone is enough.

O God, You raised up St. Teresa by Your Spirit so that she could manifest to the Church the way to perfection. Nourish us with the food of her heavenly teaching, and fire us with a desire for holiness. Amen.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Saint Faustina- The Divine Mercy Saint

Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska was born in Poland. She came from a very poor family that had struggled hard on their little farm during the terrible years of the First World War. She had only three years of very simple education.

When she was twenty years old, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. Her tasks were the humblest in the convent, usually in the kitchen or the vegetable garden, or as a porter.

On the 22nd of February, 1931, she had a vision of Jesus. He appeared to her and said, "paint an image of what you see with the signature: JESUS I TRUST IN YOU. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over (its) enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory". The picture shows Jesus with two rays coming from his heart, one red and one white.

Jesus Himself gives the explanation of the rays to St. Faustina:

The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls... These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him. By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works.

He asked her to remind the world of His unending Divine Mercy and He taught her a very special devotion to the Divine Mercy based on trust in Him called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Jesus asked her to record these experiences, which she compiled in notebooks. These notebooks are known today as the Diary of St. Maria Faustina and the words contained within are God's loving message of Divine Mercy.

Sister Faustina died on October 5, 1938, at a convent in Krakow. She was buried in the convent chapel beneath the image of the Divine Mercy.

Sister Faustina was beatified on April 18, 1993, her canonization took place on April 30, 2000 the first Sunday after Easter, on Divine Mercy Sunday. She was honoured by becoming the first saint of this millenium, giving great emphasis to the Divine Mercy Devotion.

As one of the great events of the Jubilee 2000, John Paul II, conducted the ceremony of the canonization of St Faustina, before a crowd of around 200000 Divine Mercy Pilgrims.

We are encouraged to study and to practice the devotions of the Divine Mercy:
•Veneration of the Divine Mercy Image with the caption, "Jesus, I trust in You."
•Praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, especially at 3:00 - the Hour of Divine Mercy.
•Praying a Novena of Divine Mercy from Good Friday to the Sunday after Easter, which has been designated the Feast of the Divine Mercy.

Jesus said, "On that day are open all the divine floodgates through which graces flow. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Frances was born at Lombardy in Italy. She was one of thirteen children and was raised on a farm. As a child, she dreamed about being a missionary to China. She sailed paper boats down a stream to play her "pretend game." The paper boats were ships taking missionaries to China. And she began giving up candy because in China, she probably wouldn't be able to have any.

When she grew up, Frances was not accepted into the two convents that she asked to join. Her health was not too good, so she taught at girl's school for six years. Then a priest asked her to help out in a small home for orphans. Things were very hard for Frances because of the lady who ran the house. Yet Frances stuck to the work, and some other generous women joined her. Together they took vows.

At last the bishop told Frances to begin her own congregation of missionary nuns, which Frances did without hesitation. This congregation is called the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Soon it began to grow, first in Italy and then in many other countries. Frances, whom everyone called Mother Cabrini, had always had her heart set on going to China. But it seemed that God wanted her to come to America.

When Pope Leo XIII told her, "Go west, not east," the matter was settled. Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini sailed for the United States and became an American citizen. She helped large numbers of Italian immigrants and was like their real mother and friend.

Mother Cabrini and her sisters found things very difficult in the beginning. The Archbishop of New York even suggested that they go back to Italy. But Mother Cabrini answered, "Your excellency, the Pope sent me here and here I must stay."

The Archbishop admired her pioneer spirit, and so she and her sisters were allowed to begin their great work for God. Schools, hospitals, and homes for children were opened up in different states.

As the years passed, Mother Cabrini made many trips to spread her congregation and its works. She founded 67 institutions, and there were always difficulties, but she put all her trust in the Sacred Heart. "It is he who is doing everything, not us," she would say.

Mother Cabrini died in Chicago on December 23, 1917. Her feast day is November 13th.

O God, through the work of St. Frances Cabrini, You brought comfort and love to the immigrants and those in need. May her example and work be continued in the lives of those dedicated to You.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

Edith Stein was born October 12, 1891 and was the youngest of a large Jewish family in Breslau, Germany. She graduated with a doctorate in philosophy from University of Freiburg. Edith had a brilliant mind.

After reading the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Avila, she converted to Catholicism. She was baptized on New Year's Day, 1922.

After her conversion, Edith spent her days teaching, lecturing, writing and translating, and she soon became known as a philosopher and author. The Nazi persecution of the Jews brought to a close her public activities.

She entered the Discalced Carmelie Nuns cloistered community at Cologne-Lindenthal on October 14, 1933. The following April, Easter Sunday, April 21, 1935, she made her Profession of Vows taking the name "Teresia Benedicta ac Cruce".

When the Jewish persecution increased in violence, Sister Teresa Benedicta asked to transfer to another monastery. On the night of December 31, 1938, she secretly crossed the border into Holland and entered the Carmel of Echt. There she wrote her last work, The Science of the Cross.

The Nazis invaded Holland and when the Dutch bishops issued a pastoral letter protesting the deportation of the Jews and the removal of Jewish children from the Catholic school system, the Nazis arrested all Catholics of Jewish extraction in Holland. Edith was taken from the Echt Carmel on August 2, 1942, and transported by cattle train to the death camp of Auschwitz. She died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942. Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was canonized on October 11, 1998. Her feast day is August 9th.

Saint Edith Stein, holy martyr, philosopher of truth, defender of the human person against the evils of this age enlighten our minds, illuminate our hearts, fill our lives with the passion of your love for the Cross. Amen.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Saint Thomas

Thomas was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. Thomas means "twin." Thomas loved Jesus very much. Once when Jesus was going to face the danger of being killed, the other apostles tried to hold Jesus back. Thomas said to them, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

When Jesus was captured by his enemies, Thomas lost his courage and ran away with the other apostles. It broke his heart when Jesus died. Then on Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to his apostles after He had risen from the dead but Thomas was not with them. As soon as he arrived, the other apostles told him joyfully, "We have seen the Lord." They thought Thomas would be happy. Instead, he did not believe them.

"Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails," he said, "and put my finger in the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."

Eight days later when Jesus appeared to His apostles again, Thomas was there. Jesus called him and told him to touch his hands and the wound in his side. He fell down at Jesus' feet and cried out, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus said, "Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed."

After Pentecost, Thomas was strong and firm in his belief and trust in Jesus. He took the mission he was given seriously and went to Parthia, Persia and India to preach the Gospel. He was killed by his enemies while kneeling in front of a cross and praying. He died a martyr there, after many years of preaching.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Saint Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene was from Magdala near the Sea of Galilee. She was very beautiful and very proud. She forgot that God gave her all her beauty. She wanted to be popular at all costs so she sinned. One day she met Jesus. He looked at her and showed her how sad He was about her sin. At that moment she felt great sorrow for her evil life and made up her mind to live a good life.

Jesus went to supper at the home of a rich man named Simon. The guests laughed and jeered at her. She knelt at His feet and washed His feet with her tears. Then, with her long, beautiful hair, she wiped his feet dry and anointed them with expensive perfume.

People were surprised that Jesus would let such a sinner touch him. Our Lord who could see into Mary's heart said, "I came into your house and you did not give Me water to wash My feet, but this woman washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Her many sins are forgiven because she has loved Me very much." Then Jesus said to Mary, "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith saved you. Go in peace."

From then on she loved only our Lord. She with the other holy women humbly served Jesus and his apostles. When Our Lord was crucified, she was there at the foot of his cross. She stayed with our Blessed Mother and Saint John, unafraid for herself. All she could think about was that Jesus was suffering.

After Jesus' body had been placed in the tomb, Mary went to anoint it with spices early Easter Sunday morning. She was shocked when she saw that the tomb was empty. Not finding the sacred body, she stood outside the tomb and began to weep. Suddenly she saw someone she thought was the gardener. She asked him if he knew where the body of her beloved Master had been taken.

Touched by her deep sorrow, the man spoke in a voice filled with love that she knew so well "Mary!" It was Jesus, standing right there in front of her. He was risen from the dead. And he had chosen to reveal himself first to her. The Gospels tell us that Mary was sent by Jesus himself to announce the Good News of the resurrection to Peter and the apostles.

Her Feast Day is July 22 nd.

O God, it was St. Mary Magdalene before all others that Your Son committed the message of Easter joy. Through her intercession, may we proclaim Christ as our living Lord and one day contemplate Him reigning in glory. Amen.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Saint Veronica

Not much is known about this awesome Saint. We know of the one important incident in the life of Saint Veronica which took place on the day of our Lord’s crucifixion.

Jesus was carrying His cross. The cross was heavy and the crowds were jeering and laughing at Him. They threw rocks and spat in His face. Jesus stumbled and fell many times.

One time when Jesus fell, He was so weak that He could not stand. Veronica was in the crowd. She was timid and afraid but she knew she had to help Him. She pushed her way to the front of the crowd, pushing the soldiers aside. She took the veil from her head and lovingly wiped Jesus’ face. Jesus looked tenderly at her with so much love in His eyes. He thanked her with a small smile before He was whipped and forced to continue to the place He was to be crucified.

Later that day when she got home, she looked at the veil. She found a most amazing thing! On the veil was a picture of Jesus! The entire world would remember the compassion she showed our Lord.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Saint Gemma Galgani

Gemma was born near Lucca, Italy, in 1878. When she was 20 years old she was attacked by an incurable tuberculosis of the spine. After many novenas to St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother, she was completely cured.

Gemma tried to imitate St. Gabriel by becoming a Passionist but was rejected. She was again stricken with an illness. Her life of love and suffering came to an end in great misery and loneliness. She said, "0 Jesus, I can bear no more. If it be Your holy Will, take me." She lifted her eyes to a picture of Our Lady and said, "Mother, I commend my soul into your hands, do ask
Jesus to be merciful to me."

She died April 11, 1903. Her feast day is April 11th.

Gemma's remains are in the chapel of the Passionist Sisters Lucca. A marble tablet states: "Gemma Galgani from Lucca, most pure virgin, being in her twenty-fifth year, died of consumption, but was more consumed by the fire of divine love than by her wasting disease."

O God, hear prayers through intercession of St. Gemma, Your Servant, by imitating her for the Passion of Your Loving Son, we grow in our own of Jesus Crucified. Amen.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Saint Jane Frances De Chantal

Jane was born in Dijon, in France. Her father was a devout man and brought up his children well after the death of his wife.

Jane, whom he dearly loved, married Christopher, the baron de Chantal. Jane and Christopher loved each other very much. God blessed them with six children, four of whom lived. Jane showed her love for God by loving her husband and children with her whole heart.

Then, suddenly, that happy home suddenly became sad. Baron Christopher was accidentally shot by a friend who had gone hunting with him. When he died, Jane was heart-broken. She forgave the man who had caused his death and even became his child's godmother. Jane asked the Lord to send a holy priest into her life to guide her. In the meantime, she prayed and brought up her children in the love of God. She visited the poor and the sick and comforted the dying.

When she met Saint Francis de Sales, she knew this was the holy man God had sent to guide her. We celebrate his feast on January 24. Under his guidance, Jane and three other young women started the order of the Visitation. But first, she had to make sure that her children, although older, were settled.

Although she had other responsibilities and challenges, Jane tried to follow God's plan as she saw it, no matter how difficult. Jane faced all the difficulties with courage. She opened up many convents and prayed to God for help when she was tempted to do wrong.

St. Vincent de Paul, wrote "Despite all her suffering, her face never lost its peaceful look. And she was always faithful to God. So I consider her one of the holiest souls I have ever met."

St. Jane died on December 13, 1641. We celebrate her feast day on August 18th.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Saint Catherine Laboure

Zoe Laboure, was born at Burgundy in France as the bells of the Angelus sounded. She was the ninth of eleven children of Peter and Louise Laboure had. Her father Peter, was a rich French farmer.

When Zoe was just nine years old her mother died. Zoe was her father's favourite and he depended on her. When she was twelve, she received her First Holy Communion. From that day on she got up at 4:00 am every morning and walked many miles to church to attend Mass.

Her older sister became a nun and Zoe had to run the house. Zoe, would have liked to enter the convent when she was in her early teens but because she was needed at home, she waited until she was twenty-four. She became a Sister of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and took the name of Catherine.

When she finished her training, Sister Catherine received a special favor. She prayed to St. Vincent de Paul that she might see with her own eyes the mother of God. Catherine was sure her wish would be granted.

One night, she was awakened from sleep by a brilliant light and the voice of a child saying "Sister Laboure, come to the Chapel, the Blessed Virgin awaits you." Catherine followed the little Angel who touched the locked Chapel doors and they swung open. The Blessed Virgin appeared with a rustle of silk in a blaze of glory and spoke with Catherine.

Then one Advent, in another vision, the Blessed Mother showed herself standing on a globe with streams of light coming from her hands. Underneath were the words: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who turn to thee!" The Virgin this time gave her a direct order: "Have a medal struck as I have shown you. All who wear it will receive great graces."

Sister Catherine told her confessor and he later told the bishop. So it was that the medal, which we call the miraculous medal, was made. Soon many, many people all over the world were wearing it. Yet no one in the convent knew that humble Sister Catherine was the one to whom Our Lady had appeared.

She spent the remaining forty-five years of her life doing ordinary convent tasks. She answered the door. She looked after the hens that provided the nuns with eggs. She also took care of elderly and sick people.

She was happy to keep her special privilege hidden, and was only interested in serving God as best she could. Then before she died in 1876, Mother Mary gave her permission to reveal her secret, which she shared with her Sister Superior. After she died, many miracles were reported at her tomb. Her feast day is November 28th.

Lord Jesus Christ, You were pleased to gladden the holy Virgin Catherine by the wonderful apparition of Your Immaculate Mother. Grant that by following the example of this saint we may obtain the joy of eternal life.