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."