Thursday, May 25, 2006
Peter, the first pope, was a fisherman from Galilee. Jesus invited Peter to follow him, saying: "I will make you a fisher of men." Peter was a simple, hard-working man. He was generous, honest and loved Jesus very much.
This great apostle's name was Simon, but Jesus changed it to Peter, which means "rock." "You are Peter," Jesus said, "and on this rock I will build my Church."
When the Roman soldiers arrested Jesus, Peter was afraid. In his fright he committed the sin of denying that he knew Jesus, three times. Peter was terrified that they would kill him too, but before Jesus died, Peter repented totally. He wept over his denials for the rest of his life and Jesus lovingly forgave Peter.
After the resurrection Jesus asked Peter three times: "Do you love me?" "Lord," Peter answered, "you know all things. You know that I love you." Jesus truly did know! Peter was so right. Jesus said "Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep." He was telling Peter to take care of his Church because he would be ascending into heaven. Jesus left Peter as the leader and head of His Church.
Peter later went to Rome to live. Rome was the center of the whole Roman Empire. Peter converted many nonbelievers there. When the fierce torture of Christians began, they begged Peter to leave Rome and save himself. Peter started out and on the road and Jesus appeared to him. Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered, "I am coming to be crucified a second time."
Peter turned around and went back. He understood that this vision meant that he was meant to suffer and die for Jesus. Soon, he was taken prisoner and condemned to death. Because he was not a Roman citizen, he, like Jesus, could be crucified. This time he did not deny the Lord. This time he was ready to die for Jesus. Peter asked to be crucified with his head downward since he was not worthy to suffer as Jesus had. The Roman soldiers did not find this unusual because slaves were crucified upside down.
Peter was martyred on Vatican Hill. It was around the year 67. A large church was built over that sacred location in the fourth century.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
This lovable Saint was born at Assisi in Italy. Gabriel was the eleventh of thirteen children. He received the name Francis at Baptism, in honor of the great St. Francis of Assisi. His mother died when he was only four years old. Francis' father hired a governess to raise his thirteen children.
Francis grew to be very handsome and likable. He was often the most popular person at a party. He loved to have fun and enjoyed hunting and attending the theater. There was also another side to him, too. Even while having good times, he was sometimes bored but he couldn't explain why.
He seemed to feel in his heart a strong desire for God and the deeper things of life. Twice he became so sick he nearly died. Each time he promised Our Lady that if she would help cure him, he would become a priest. He got better both times, but he did not keep his promise.
One day, he saw a picture of the Sorrowful Mother that was being carried in a procession. It seemed that the Blessed Mother was looking straight at him. At the same time, he heard a voice in his heart telling him, "Francis, the world is not for you anymore."
That did it! At the age of eighteen, Francis entered the Passionist monastery and took the name Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother. The Passionists were preachers of the Passion of Jesus.
Gabriel's great loves became the Holy Eucharist and Mary, the Sorrowful Mother. He loved to spend time thinking about the passion of Jesus and how much the Lord had suffered for him. His great devotion to Mary also caused him to think deeply about her sorrows over the suffering of Jesus.
Gabriel learned to practice two virtues in a special way: humility and obedience. His special trademark was joy. He was always happy and spread that happiness to those around him.
After only four years in the Passionist order, Gabriel died of tuberculosis on February 27, 1862 at Abruzzi in Italy. After his death many miracles took place when people prayed to him. His feast day is February 27th.
Message of Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother:
Love Mary!... She is loveable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her. She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you. She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity.
O God, You taught St.Gabriel to dwell upon the sorrows of Your most sweet Mother, raised him to the glory of holiness and miracles. Grant that we may also share her sorrows and be saved by her protection. Amen.