28 April 2010

Saint Louis Montfort's Prayer to Mary

Hail Mary, beloved Daughter of the Eternal Father! Hail Mary, admirable Mother of the Son! Hail Mary, faithful spouse of the Holy Ghost! Hail Mary, my dear Mother, my loving Mistress, my powerful sovereign! Hail my joy, my glory, my heart and my soul! Thou art all mine by mercy, and I am all thine by justice. But I am not yet sufficiently thine. I now give myself wholly to thee without keeping anything back for myself or others. If thou still seest in me anything which does not belong to thee, I beseech thee to take it and to make thyself the absolute Mistress of all that is mine. Destroy in me all that may he displeasing to God, root it up and bring it to nought; place and cultivate in me everything that is pleasing to thee.

May the light of thy faith dispel the darkness of my mind; may thy profound humility take the place of my pride; may thy sublime contemplation check the distractions of my wandering imagination; may thy continuous sight of God fill my memory with His presence; may the burning love of thy heart inflame the lukewarmness of mine; may thy virtues take the place of my sins; may thy merits be my only adornment in the sight of God and make up for all that is wanting in me. Finally, dearly beloved Mother, grant, if it be possible, that I may have no other spirit but thine to know Jesus and His divine will; that I may have no other soul but thine to praise and glorify the Lord; that I may have no other heart but thine to love God with a love as pure and ardent as think I do not ask thee for visions, revelations, sensible devotion or spiritual pleasures. It is thy privilege to see God clearly; it is thy privilege to enjoy heavenly bliss; it is thy privilege to triumph gloriously in Heaven at the right hand of thy Son and to hold absolute sway over angels, men and demons; it is thy privilege to dispose of all the gifts of God, just as thou willest.

Such is, O heavenly Mary, the "best part," which the Lord has given thee and which shall never be taken away from thee--and this thought fills my heart with joy. As for my part here below, I wish for no other than that which was thine: to believe sincerely without spiritual pleasures; to suffer joyfully without human consolation; to die continually to myself without respite; and to work zealously and unselfishly for thee until death as the humblest of thy servants. The only grace I beg thee to obtain for me is that every day and every moment of my life I may say: Amen, So be it--to all that thou didst do while on earth; Amen, so be it--to all that thou art now doing in Heaven; Amen, so be it--to all that thou art doing in my soul, so that thou alone mayest fully glorify Jesus in me for time and eternity.


Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort

28 APRIL 2010. Today is the feast day  (optional memorial on the General Calendar of the Order of Preachers) of Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
Missionary in Brittany and Vendee; born at Montfort, 31 January, 1673; died at Saint Laurent sur Sevre, 28 April, 1716.

From his childhood, he was indefatigably devoted to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and, when from his twelfth year he was sent as a day pupil to the Jesuit college at Rennes, he never failed to visit the churchsociety of young men who during holidays ministered to the poor and to the incurables in the hospitals, and read for them edifying books during their meals. At the age of nineteen, he went on foot to Paris to follow the course in theology, gave away on the journey all his money to the poor, exchanged clothing with them, and made a vow to subsist thenceforth only on alms. He was ordained priest at the age of twenty-seven, and for some time fulfilled the duties of chaplain in a hospital. In 1705, when he was thirty-two, he found his true vocation, and thereafter devoted himself to preaching to the people. During seventeen years he preached the Gospel in countless towns and villages. As an orator he was highly gifted, his language being simple but replete with fire and divine love. His whole life was conspicuous for virtues difficult for modern degeneracy to comprehend: constant prayer, love of the poor, poverty carried to an unheard-of degree, joy in humiliations and persecutions.

The following two instances will illustrate his success. He once gave a mission for the soldiers of the garrison at La Rochelle, and moved by his words, the men wept, and cried aloud for the forgiveness of their sins. In the procession which terminated this mission, an officer walked at the head, barefooted and carrying a banner, and the soldiers, also barefooted, followed, carrying in one hand a crucifix, in the other a rosary, and singing hymns.

Grignion's extraordinary influence was especially apparent in the matter of the calvary at Pontchateau. When he announced his determination of building a monumental calvary on a neighbouring hill, the idea was enthusiastically received by the inhabitants. For fifteen months between two and four hundred peasants worked daily without recompense, and the task had just been completed, when the king commanded that the whole should be demolished, and the land restored to its former condition. The Jansenists had convinced the Governor of Brittany that a fortress capable of affording aid to persons in revolt was being erected, and for several months five hundred peasants, watched by a company of soldiers, were compelled to carry out the work of destruction. Father de Montfort was not disturbed on receiving this humiliating news, exclaiming only: "Blessed be God!"

This was by no means the only trial to which Grignion was subjected. It often happened that the Jansenists, irritated by his success, secure by their intrigues his banishment form the district, in which he was giving a mission. At La Rochelle some wretches put poison into his cup of broth, and, despite the antidote which he swallowed, his health was always impaired. On another occasion, some malefactors hid in a narrow street with the intention of assassinating him, but he had a presentiment of danger and escaped by going by another street. A year before his death, Father de Montfort founded two congregations — the Sisters of Wisdom, who were to devote themselves to hospital work and the instruction of poor girls, and the Company of Mary, composed of missionaries. He had long cherished these projects but circumstances had hindered their execution, and, humanly speaking, the work appeared to have failed at his death, since these congregations numbered respectively only four sisters and two priests with a few brothers. But the blessed founder, who had on several occasions shown himself possessed of the gift of prophecy, knew that the tree would grow. At the beginning of the twentieth century the Sisters of Wisdom numbered five thousand, and were spread throughout every country; they possessed forty-four houses, and gave instruction to 60,000 children. After the death of its founder, the Company of Mary was governed for 39 years by Father Mulot. He had at first refused to join de Montfort in his missionary labours. "I cannot become a missionary", said he, "for I have been paralysed on one side for years; I have an affection of the lungs which scarcely allows me to breathe, and am indeed so ill that I have no rest day or night." But the holy man, impelled by a sudden inspiration, replied, "As soon as you begin to preach you will be completely cured." And the event justified the prediction. Grignion de Montfort was beatified by Leo XIII in 1888.
Just five montths after being ordained a priest, and frustrated by the lack of preaching opportunities, Saint Montfort joined the Third Order Dominicans and asked persmission to preach the rosary and form rosary confraternities. Later, on a pilgrimage to Rome to meet Pope Clement XI, tradition tells that the Holy Father recognized Saint Montfort's gift for preaching and instructed him to return to France to preach, giving Father Montfort the title of Apostolic Missionary.

Saint Louis had a great love for the rosary and is today well known for many of his writings on the Rosary and our Holy Mother, including a book entitled The Secret of the Rosary which is an easily accessible book that contains suggested methods for praying the Rosary with more devotion. In fact, Saint Louis is so well known for his writings, that scholars say he is currently under consideration to be named a Doctor of the Church. His writings influenced several popes, including the great and Venerable Pope John Paul II, who cites his reading of Saint Louis' True Devotion to Mary as a "decisive turning point" in his life.

27 April 2010

Blessed Osanna of Kotor

27 APRIL 2010. Today we celebrate the feast day (optional memorial) of Blessed Osanna of Kotor, a holy fifteenth century woman from an Orthodox heritage who converted to Catholicism and became a lay dominican.

Blessed Osanna was born Jovana Kosic in Zeta on 25 November 1493. The daughter and granddaughter of Orthodox priests, and the niece of the Orthodox bishop of Zeta, the child Jovana was baptized and raised in the Serb Orthodox faith.  As a young girl, the child Jovana worked as a shepherdess and was known to spend hours in prayer. Tradition tells that as a child, she had a vision of a child sleeping in the grass while tending her flocks, but when she went to retrieve the child, it disappeared. She continued to have similar apparitions through her childhood.

Feeling a longing to go to the coast (the Bay of Kotor), at the age of 14 Jovana's parents allowed her to take a position there as a servant with the wealthy Catholic Bucca family. The Bucca family allowed the child time off for Church visits as she wished and she soon converted to Catholicism, taking the name Catherine.

In her late teens, Catherine felt the call to live the eremetic life of an anchoress. Though she was considered very young for such a calling, her spiritual director allowed her to reside in a hermitage near Saint Bartholomew's Church in Cattaro. From her hermitage, now Catherine could hear mass and offer prayers for those would come for her spiritual advice.

After an earthquake destroyed her hermitage at Saint Bartholomew's, Catherine moved to a new hermitage near Saint Paul's church and became a Dominican tertiary, taking the name Osanna in memory of Blessed Osanna of Mantua. There, for the last 52 years of her life, Blessed Osanna would follow the Dominican rule in her cell.

So great was Blessed Osanna's reputation for holiness that a group of Dominican nuns took up residence near her hermitage at Saint Paul's and considered her to be their foundress, though Blessed Osanna never left her confines.

Tradition tells that Blessed Osanna had many visions in her cell, including those of the Blessed Mother, Christ as a baby, several saints, and even the Devil, who tried to persuade her to relax her penances.

Over the course of her life, the people of Kotor came to call Blessed Osanna the "trumpet of the Holy Spirit" and the "teacher of mysticism." People from all walks of life visited Blessed Osanna at the window of her hermitage, seeking her advice. She interceded for the many who expressed their need for her prayers, in particular peace in the town and for peace among feuding families.

Blessed Osanna died on 27 April 1565. Her incorrupt body was kept in Saint Paul's church until A.D. 1807. In A.D. 1927 Pope Pius XI confirmed Blessed Osanna's cultus, and she was formally beatified in A.D. 1934.

Today, Blessed Osanna is invoked by many for Church unity.

Blessed Osanna of Kotor, pray for us!

Prayer of Saint Catherine of Siena to the Precious Blood of Jesus

Precious Blood,
Ocean of Divine Mercy:
Flow upon us!

Precious Blood,
Most pure Offering:
Procure us every Grace!

Precious Blood,
Hope and Refuge of sinners:
Atone for us!

Precious Blood,
Delight of holy souls:
Draw us!


25 April 2010


25 APRIL 2010. Today the Church celebrates the fourth Sunday of Easter. With this Sunday's Gospel reading, the liturgical current begins to move in a new direction. While Easter and the two Sundays that followed focused on the events of Jesus' appearances in the weeks after the Resurrection, now we begin to focus more on the role of the Risen Christ in the life of the Body of Christ on earth--we His believers and followers.

Today's readings are found here, but the Gospel reading today bears repeating on these pages:
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one can shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (Jn 10, 27-30 RSV-CE)
From this Gospel passage, today is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. But, the imagery of the Good Shepherd is not new to believers of Jesus' day. In fact, Jesus is reaching back to the imagery of the Prophet Ezekiel to describe the grace of the Lord's love that flows abundantly for all:
I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over; I will feed them in justice. (Ezek 34, 15-16 RSV-CE)
This is powerful stuff. Notice that there is no justification necessary to receive the love of the Good Shepherd. There is no call for us to rummuge around in ourselves to find that piece of ourselves that is worthy of the Lord's love. Indeed, the love of the Lord is spilled out on us in abundance not because of what we have in our interior, but because of our exterior--we are created in His image and out of His love. We are worthy of the love of God because we are loved by Him.

I have heard it expressed this way: there is no need for us to get our act together to be loved by God. Even in our brokenness, our sinfulness, and our failings, the Lord's love still seeks us out and desires to provide us the nourishment that we need through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the the sacraments of the Church made available to us all, through which we each have the opportunity to receive God's grace.

Jesus the Good Shepherd will seek out the sheep that are lost. He will bring back those sheep that have strayed. The sheep that have been crippled and wounded by sin will have their wounds bound and healed by His love. The weak of the flock will be strengthened by Him. And, He will watch over the fat and the strong. None stray from His gaze, and none of the sheep can be snatched from His hands, as none can be snatched from the Father.

In this most beautiful imagery we find that none of us can be taken from the love of God. No matter what we do--no matter what--we are still the beloved of our Creator. We are still the sheep of the Lord's flock for which His love is never ending.

That is why Jesus says: "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish . . . ." As the Good Shepherd who loves His sheep, Jesus has laid down His life for us His sheep, to give us all eternal life with Him in the resurrection. Remember, we can never get too big for the love of God. Jesus' love and His redemption are sufficient to save us all, if we but follow Him, our Good Shepherd.

IMAGE: A third century catacomb painting of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

20 April 2010

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano

20 APRIL 2010. Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Agnes of Montepulciano.

Born into a wealthy family in A.D. 1268 at Tuscany, Italy, Saint Agnes was known to be a pious child who at the age of six began nagging her parents to let her join a convent. At the age of nine the child Agnes was admitted to the convent at Montepulciano, Italy. In the convent, Agnes grew in holiness and reputation in advance of her age. When her spiritual director was appointed abbess of a new convent in Procena, Agnes followed her there.

At the age of fifteen, with the special permission of Pope Nicholas IV, Agnes became the abbess of Procena. As abbess, Saint Agnes required greater strictness of life in the convent. For herself, Saint Agnes was known to sleep on the ground, live on bread and water, and to have used a stone for a pillow.

At Procena, too, Saint Agnes gained a reputation for performing miracles. Tradition tells that people suffering from mental and physical ailments appeared cured when in her presence, and it is told that on several occasions she fed the entire convent from a handful of bread after praying over it.

Over the years, the places where Saint Agnes knelt in prayer often blossomed with flowers--violets, lilies, and roses. One year, on the night of the Feast of the Assumption, the Holy Mother appeared to Saint Agnes and placed the infant Jesus in her arms. As Saint Agnes cradled our Lord, she noticed that the Christ Child wore a small golden crucifix. When Saint Agnes awoke from her visionary trance, she held in her hands the small golden crucifix worn by our Saviour.

In A.D. 1298 Saint Agnes returned to Montepulciano. After being told by an angel to establish a new convent under the Rule of Saint Dominic she did so, beginning a Dominican convent there, and served as its prioress until her death.

During Saint Agnes' last illness, she was sent to bathe in curative waters; on her journey there, tradition tells that she brought back to life a child who had drowned. While Saint Agnes' health did not afterwards improve, a spring welled up near where Saint Agnes has received treatments and tradition tells the spring cured many others, and so earned the name the water of Saint Agnes.

Saint Agnes died on 20 April 1317. Many miracles have been attributed to her tomb. She was beatified in A.D. 1534 and canonized in A.D. 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII.

Blessed Raymond of Capua, the confessor of Saint Catherine of Sienna, wrote a biography of Saint Agnes about fifty years after her death. Saint Catherine of Sienna referred to Saint Agnes as "Our mother, the glorious Agnes."


O God, who wast of times pleased 
to shed a heavenly dew over Thy Holy Virgin, Blessed Agnes, 
and to deck the places of her payer 
with divers fresh-blown flowers,
mercifully grant that we, through her payers, 
may be sprinkled with the unfailing dew of Thy blessing, 
and made fit to receive the fruits of immortality. 
Through Christ our Lord. 


19 April 2010

For the Priests of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee

Co-Cathedral of Saint Thomas More
Tallahassee, Florida

19 APRIL 2010. This week is a week of retreat and reflection for the priests of our diocese.They are meeting with our bishop, John Ricard, S.S.J., who is fighting the good fight to recover from ill health. Mass today in Tallahassee was only offered at my home parish of Good Shepherd by a retired priest who lives nearby.

So, a word of thanks for all our wonderful priests of the diocese, and a word of thanks and encouragement to Bishop Ricard for his tremendous pastoral leadership. In many ways I have personally seen his leadership of the diocese bring a blessing of increased faith and an increase in the sacraments.


Loving God, 
You have blessed the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee
with many faithful and wonderful workers for the vineyard, 
and the life of the Church here has blossomed
under their care, and for Your Glory.
Grant, we beseech Thee, to look over and guard our priests.
Keep them strong in their ministry;
preserve them from doubt and sin;
and provide for them every grace in abundance to serve You 
and Your people, the Body of Christ.


Prayer to all the Saints of the Dominican Order

Ant. O what happiness and glory belong always to the saints, how distinguished the merits of the Preachers, by whose words and deeds the world is adorned, by whose works the mind grows stronger.

V: The saints shall be joyful in glory.
R: They shall sing for joy on their couches.

Let us pray

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the examples fo the saints of our Order may incite us to a better life; that we may imitate the deeds of them whose memory we celebrate. Through Christ our Lord.

R: Amen.

18 April 2010


18 APRIL 2010. Today the Church celebrates the third Sunday of Easter. Today's Liturgy of the Word is the third Sunday where the Gospel readings give us a view into the details of the days and weeks following the resurrection, and leading to Christ's ascension.

The readings for today's mass are found here.

Today's reading from the Gospel of Saint John finds most of the apostles back in Galilee, as they have returned to their home and to what is natural and comfortable for them. In the time since the resurrection, the apostles have been spiritually wandering. They have experienced the depth of Christ's passion and death, and the heights of His resurrection, but He is no longer with them every day. So, it is natural that they would return to their homes and, indeed, return to what they previously did. At Peter's suggestion, the apostles in today's Gospel passage go fishing.

They were fisherman before Jesus' call, so we find it no surprise that they have returned to fishing. But, they catch nothing after fishing all night. The sense of futility in doing what comes natural to them--to living a life as they lived it prior to Christ's call--is evident in Saint John's account. Their lives are now futile without Christ.

However, at dawn Christ is standing on the shore, although they do not recognize Him, and he tells them to cast their nets over the right side of the boat to catch fish. They do so, and we hear: "So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish." At this moment, the apostle John recognizes the Lord and tells Simon Peter that it is Him. Impatient to return to shore, Peter leaps into the water and swims to greet Jesus on the shore.

In this sequence of fishing with futility and then catching a great abundance following the words of Christ, we see the futility of life driven out of the lives of the apostles by Christ's loving interjection. We see that when we the faithful want to do in our lives what is comfortable, but do it without Christ, we live in futility. When we allow the love of Christ to infuse us and act in our lives, however, that futility falls away for an abundance of blessing.

In fact, we hear that the apostles drug the net, straining with fish, to the shore where the counted 153 large fish. There, on the shore they ate breakfast with the Lord, sharing bread and fish.

Christ loved the apostles as He loves us. He is a real presence in our lives, if we but open ourselves to Christ, so that we may live lives not filled with futility, but filled with the blessing and grace offered by God.

And, too, today's Gospel account provides a view into the redemption that Christ offers to each of us. Prior to Christ' crucifixion, Peter had claimed to love the Lord more than the others, saying he would lay down his life for Jesus (Jn 13, 37 NAB), but Jesus knew that his heart still suffered from weakness and, indeed, told Peter that he would deny Him three times (Jn 13, 18), which he did (Jn 18, 17-27).

Now, after the resurrection of Christ, He asks Peter three times if he loves Him. The significance of the three questions is not to test Peter's sincerity. No. The Lord now knows that Peter's heart is ready to take on the burden that he will bear by loving Christ devotedly, so He asks Peter three times if he loves Him so that Peter can fully reconcile his three denials of Christ. And in response to each of Peter's three affirmations of love for our Lord, Christ gives Peter the duties of the universal pastor of the Church: "Feed my lambs." "Tend my sheep." "Feed my sheep." That is, Christ calls Peter to provide for the innocent and look after the needs of all believers, feeding them with the Truth of the Gospel and the Eucharist, in obeyance of Christ's final command to Peter: "Follow me."

Praise the Lord for the gift of today's call to follow Him. He offers us all the redemption of His love each time we fail. Our key in following Him in faith is to continue to try. Peter tried and failed to follow the Lord, then Christ redeemed Peter's efforts and he was given the pastoral responsibility for the entirety of us believers. Like Peter, we today will try and fail, but relying humbly on our Lord's love, each of us can live out the fullness of the life he has called us to through His grace which He offers freely.

17 April 2010

Blessed Maria Mancini

17 APRIL 2010. In addition to Blessed Clara Gambacorta (the subject of the immediately preceding post), today we also celebrate the feast day of Blessed Maria Mancini, a companion of Blessed Clara who served as the second prioress of the Convent of Saint Dominic outside Pisa.

Born Catherine Mancini at Pisa in the middle of the fourteenth century, she was a child that received several supernatural favors. When she was three years old, her guardian angel warned her that the portico under which her nurse has laid her was unsafe, and immediately upon being removed the portico collapsed. At the age of five and a half, Catherine experienced an exctasy by which she was transported to a palace where Peter Gambacorta was being tortured. At the prayer of the innocent child, the ropes that held him fell free and he escaped his torture. The Blessed Mother required the child Catherine afterward to recite seven Hail Marys each day for Peter Gambacorta, telling her that one day Catherine would be supported as his expense.

At the age of 12, Catherine's friends convinced her to marry. However, she found herself a widow by the age of 16. Catherine's family insisted that she remarry, which she did, but her second husband died before she reached the age of 25. As well, Catherine's children either died in infancy or did not survive their father. So, at the age of 25 Catherine found herself able to follow the attraction that she had to prayer and penance with greater freedom than was possible as a mother and wife.

In the spring of A.D. 1375, Saint Catherine of Sienna visited Pisa and the Saint and Catherine became close and holy friends. In fact, tradition tells that in Pisa, on Easter Sunday, the two shared a vision of all the people covered by a shining white cloud, out of which flew a white dove.

Because of the encouragement of Saint Catherine of Sienna, Catherine herself joined the Convent of the Holy Cross outside Pisa, taking the religious name Maria. After a period of time at the Convent of the Holy Cross, Maria and Blessed Clara left with some of their companion sisters to found the Convent of Saint Dominic. The new convent was built by Peter Gambacorta for his daughter Clara, and thus fulfilled the Blessed Mother's prophecy to the child Catherine, now Maria.

At the Convent of Saint Dominic, Blessed Maria lived a life of charity and strict religious observance with Blessed Clara and the rest of their community. She devoted herself to penance and contemplation. Tradition tells that Blessed Maria continued to receive supernatural favors in her religious life, which she she sought guidance on with the bishop of Jaen, Alfonso Vadaterra, who was a prominent man of the time and the former confessor of Saint Bridget.

After the death of Blessed Clara in 1419, Blessed Maria succeeded her dear friend as prioress of the Convent of Saint Dominic.

Blessed Maria died on 22 January 1431, and was beatified by Pope Pius IX.


O God, who didst present Blessed Maria
with the abundance of Thy grace and didst make her wonderful
by the gift of contemplation and
by exceeding great charity towards her neighbors,
grant us, that, by her imitation,
meditating on heavenly things and showing mercy to others,
we may merit to attain to eternal glory together with her.
Through Christ our Lord.


Blessed Clara Gambacorta

17 APRIL 2010. Today we celebrate the feast day of two Dominican women (this is the first post; the second will follow later today).

Blessed Clara Gambacorta is a widow and Dominican nun who was known for her and her community's religious observance and her great charity and forgiveness.

Born in Pisa in A.D. 1362, Blessed Clara's father became the governor of Pisa when she was seven years old and betrothed her to a young man named Simon di Massa. Although chosen for marriage by her parents, Blessed Cara was devoted, tradition tells, to living a life entirely for God. At the age of 12 Blessed Clara was forced to submit to marriage, but her husband left immediately after the marriage to fight in foreign wars and died in 1377 without ever returning to Pisa. Now a widow at the age of 15, Blessed Clara was determined to join a religious order, but her parents were intent on seeing her remarried.

In the face of her parents' opposition, Blessed Clara cut off all her hair, gave all she owned to the poor, and, wearing rough penitential clothes, entered the local Convent of the Poor Clares. In her choice of a religious life, Blessed Clara was encouraged in letters by Saint Catherine of Sienna, whom she had met on the Saint's visit to Pisa two years earlier. In the convent, she exchanged her baptismal name, Thora, for the religious name of Clara. However, she was not in the convent long because her brother, with an armed force, removed her from the convent and took her home where she was kept for many months against her will. However, on the feast of Saint Dominic, Clara's sister-in-law took her to mass a the local Dominican church where she received a call to the religious life as a Dominican.

Finally, through patience, Blessed Clara overcame the objections of her family and was allowed to join the Dominican Convent of the Holy Cross outside Pisa.

While the Convent of the Holy Cross had a devout and pious spirit, it was not a place of strict religious observance. So, after four years Blessed Clara, and four others, moved into a new convent dedicated to Saint Dominic and built for them by Peter Gambacorta, where strict religious observance was kept by Blessed Clara and her fellow sisters.

Blessed Clara was soon chosen as the prioress of the new convent and from it several sisters went on to reform communities throughout the region. The community was renowned for its religious observance and even was responsible for initiating a reform of friars because of their example and prayers.

Tradition tells of Count Galeazzo who one day was praying in front of a crucifix in a half-ruined church in the city. From the crucifix came a voice asking that the Count carry it to the Covent of Saint Dominic. While the Count was enroute to the convent, Blessed Clara heard a voice that urged her to the convent's door to meet her spouse. At the door she found Count Galeazzo and the crucifix, which she accepted with great deoviton and hung it above the convent's high altar.

Although Blessed Clara's convent lived in strict religious observance, it was a community known for its charity. No poor person who approached the convent was left unaided. And, Blessed Clara organized out-sisters who would work in institutions around Pisa ministering to those in need under the direction of Blessed Clara. As well, Blessed Clara was a spiritual guide for many through her wise counsel and letters. Known for her prudence and charity, Blessed Clara even pardoned the assassins of her father and brothers, even giving the assassin's widow and daughters safe refuge in the convent. Blessed Clara also prized study and encouraged her sisters to do so too.

Blessed Clara died on 17 April 1419, at the age of 57. Tradition tells that many miracles and signal graces have been obtained by the intercession of Blessed Clara. She was beatified by Pope Pius VIII.


Grant us, 
O merciful God, the spirit of prayer and penance,
that, following in the footsteps of 
Blessed Clara,
we may be worthy to gain the crown
which she hath received in heaven.
Through Christ our Lord.


16 April 2010

The Holy Father's Words Regarding Penance

16 APRIL 2010. Yesterday morning the Holy Father celebrated mass with the Pontifical Biblical Commission and gave an unscripted homily which has been fairly widely reported on. In his homily, Benedict XVI touched on the objective of the mendicant spirit and the proper place and need for penance in our world. Here, in part, is the Holy Father's homily:
"[T]today we are often a little afraid to speak of eternal life. We speak of the things that are useful for the world, we show that Christianity can help improve the world but we dare not say that its goal is eternal life and that from that goal come the criteria of life."

He continued, that is why "we should instead have the courage, the joy, and the great hope that eternal life exists, which is the true life and that from this true life comes the light that also illuminates this world. From this point of view, 'penitence is a grace', a grace that we recognize our sins, that we can recognize that we need renewal, change, a transformation of our very being."

"I have to say that we Christians, also recently, have often avoided the word 'penitence', which seems too harsh. Now, before the attacks from the world that speak of our sins, we see that the power to be penitent is a grace and we see how it is necessary to make penance, to recognize what is wrong in our life. We must be open to forgiveness, prepare ourselves for forgiveness, let ourselves be transformed. The sorrow of penitence, of purification and transformation," he concluded, "is a grace because it is a renewal, the work of Divine Mercy."
What a wonderful call to the sacraments. What a wonderful call especially to the sacrament of reconciliation. With the truly penitential spirit, humbly submitting ourselves to the Lord and the community for reconciliation in complete reliance on the grace and mercy of the Lord, we receive a blessing. We receive renewal through the works of Divine Mercy. Not condemnation. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not come to condemn, but to save. And, so our Church, the bride of Christ, offers that gift of reconciliation, and the sure access to the grace of Divine Mercy, through the sacrament of confession.

While there may be pain, hurt, anxiety, embarrassment, and uneasiness in the moment of the confession, the truly penitential spirit will receive the grace of reconciliation that transcends all emotional trappings, and the blessing of renewal that transforms us who now relive our death to ourselves and to sin so that we might live in eternity with Christ, whom we praise and give glory.

And, too, at the heart of all service toward others is the transcendent goal of serving the Lord so that we might bring others and ourselves to life eternal with our God. As Blessed Mother Theresa was fond of saying, she was not involved in humanitarian work, but the work of the Gospel, spreading the good news to those most in need of it.

14 April 2010

Saint Elmo

14 APRIL 2010. Today we celebrate the feast day (optional memorial) of Blessed Peter Gonzalez, a Dominican friar and priest who is renowned by Spanish and Portuguese sailors as "Saint Elmo."

Born in A.D. 1190 in Astorga, Leon, Spain, Blessed Peter was educated by his uncles, the Bishop of Astorga, who bestowed upon Peter the canonry when he was very young, even receiving a papal dispensation to become a canon prior to the meeting the minimum age requirements. However, Blessed Peter's position of canon was pursued for political reasons, not spiritual ones. One day, while dressed in the finery of a canon and riding a horse in a procession, Blessed Peter's horse was spooked and threw him. He landed in a dung heap, to the not-so-quiet delight of many of the onlookers, who disregarded him merely as a political oportunist.

However, embarrassed and angry, Blessed Peter withdrew for a time and, praise be to God, experienced a true conversion of heart. Following this, Blessed Peter resigned as canon and entered the Dominican Order where he became renowned for his preaching. While Blessed Peter accompanied the King, Saint Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon on his expeditions against the Moors, Blessed Peter's true ambition was to preach to the poor. As a preacher, great crowds would gather to hear him.

Most of Blessed Peter's life as a Dominican was devoted to the instruction of the mariners in Galicia and along the coast of Spain. Tradition tells that when Blessed Peter lacked food for those for whom he was caring, we would kneel beside a river and pray. At the moment of his prayer, fish would leap onto the riverbank before him.

Blessed Peter died on 14 April 1246, and is buried at the cathedral in Tui. Peter was beatified in A.D. 1254 by Pope Innocent IV, and although his cultus was confirmed in A.D. 1741 by Pope Benedict XIV, and despite the popular title of Saint Elmo, he has never been formerly canonized.


Almighty God, you bestowed the singular help of Blessed Peter 
on those in peril from the sea. 
By the help of his prayers 
may the light of your grace shine forth in all the storms of this life 
and enable us to find the harbor of everlasting salvation. 
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever.


13 April 2010

Blessed Margaret of Castello

13 APRIL 2010. Today we celebrate the feast day (optional memorial) of Blessed Margaret of Città di Castello, a lay Dominican and virgin.

Born in A.D. 1287 near Florence, Italy, Margaret was born a hunchback, a midget, blind, and lame. Ashamed of their daughter, Margret's family kept her hidden for many years (until the age of 6 or 7, although some accounts say the age of 9), when they took Margaret to seek healing at the tomb of a holy Franciscan lay brother named Jacopo. When Blessed Margaret was not healed of her infirmities, her family abandoned her under the portico of the church.

Now blind, lame, and abandoned, the child was found by a kindly family who took her in and cared for her, then passed her to another family who for a time cared for her. Feeling abandoned by her only family in life, Blessed Margaret placed all her trust in God. All those that came into contact with the saintly little girl came to know of the interior life of virtue which she led. And, when the nuns of a local convent offered a place of refuge for Blessed Margaret she was overjoyed at the opportunity to live a religious life. However, that joy was short-lived.

The convent that gave shelter to Blessed Margaret was a place that was caught up in living a worldly life, for whom the virtuous life of Blessed Margaret was more than a gentle reproach. At the convent, Blessed Margaret endured ill treatment and was often subject to verbal abuse.

Then, an honest and pious couple who was familiar with the plight of Blessed Margaret pitied her situation in the convent and took her into their home. There she resided in a loving atmosphere for the rest of her natural life. While living with these adoptive parents, Blessed Margaret became a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic. Although blind, Blessed Margaret knew nearly the entire Psalter by heart and daily recited the Office of the Blessed Virgin and the Cross, which was her habitual prayer.

The Psalms came alive with Blessed Margaret who regularly explained the mysteries of the psalms and developed the hidden sense of their inspired words. Though never formally schooled, Blessed Margaret was fluent in Latin and, desiring to offer her gratitude to the family who had taken her in, she undertook to watch their children while the parents worked, often instructing the children in their Latin lessons. She also instructed the children in little tasks, which she helped them perform, and she instilled in them a great devotion to sacred childhood.

Blessed Margaret devoted several hours to prayer each day and often spent many hours in prayer each night. Tradition tells that often while at prayer she was suspended a foot or more off the ground and remained suspend for a long time during her prayer.

To her family and loved ones, Blessed Margaret was known to have great charity towards all who needed it, but also great austerity towards her own innocent flesh. This was only discovered after her death when her body was found to be torn and mangled with instruments of penance.

Blessed Margaret, known to few other than her family and loved ones, died at the age of 33 on 13 April 1320, and she was buried with great honor in the local Dominican church. After death, her tomb has been attributed with many miracles.

Margaret was declared blessed by the Church (cultus confirmed) on 19 October 1609 under the pontificate of Paul V. Blessed Margaret is an inspiration to those who feel abandoned and who would be tempted to self-pity. Today, her remains lie beneath the main altar at the Saint Dominic Church in Castello and many visit the church to venerate her incorrupt body and pray for Blessed Margaret's intercession.


O God, who wast pleased that Thy Holy Virgin,
the Blessed Margaret, should be born blind,
so that the eye of the heart being enlightened,
she might continually contemplate Thee alone,
be Thou the light of our eyes, 
that we may have no part in the darkness of this world,
but be enabled to reach the land of eternal brightness.
Through Christ our Lord,


12 April 2010

Prayer for Victims of Abuse

Praise to you, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
source of all consolation and hope.
By your Son's dying and rising
He remains our light in every darkness,
our strength in every weakness.
Be the refuge and guardian of all
who suffer from abuse and violence.
Comfort them
and send healing for their wounds of body, soul and spirit.
Rescue them from bitterness and shame
and refresh them with your love.
Heal the brokenness in all victims of abuse
and revive the spirits of all who lament this sin.
Help us to follow Jesus
in drawing good from evil, life from death.
Make us one with you in your love for justice
as we deepen our respect
for the dignity of every human life.
Giver of peace, make us one in celebrating your praise,
both now and forever.


For the Love of God!


1. The Mercy of God.

Yesterday's celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday drew to a close the Octave of Easter--the eight days in which the Church celebrates the Paschal mystery of Christ's resurrection for all of humanity's salvation.

The resurrection of Christ from the dead is not fable. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is not myth. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is not an ideological construct. It is real.

The resurrection of Christ is historical truth. And, the resurrection of Christ is the single event in the history of humanity that touched and changed each and every person that has ever drawn breath, that has ever experienced a heartbeat, and that has ever been contemplated by our Creator. All of humanity, those in the grave, those on earth, and those whose lives still lay in the future were altogether, in that single moment of resurrection, offered life eternal. Christ has broken the chains of death that held all of us in slavery prior to His incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection. Now, freed from the bondage of death, we are free to live for Him.

With the great gift of free will, now, each person is given the awesome responsibility to live rightly. Some, saints among us, live holy lives. Others, emmersed in the devil's grasp, throw that responsibility to the wind and make themselves a god, pretending to be in control of everything. These delude themselves by falsely rationalizing that human biology is an accident. They say there is no God and that organized religion is a crutch for the weak who cannot deal with the temporal limits of this life. They are wrong. Richard Dawkins and all that espouse the lies that he professes are wrong. They are terribly and tragically wrong; pray for them.

Others, a great deal of the multitude of the earth, try to live in accord with the Divine Will at work in their lives. We fail often. Our goal of Christianity often appears to be a summit that it too high to reach, but still we try. Some on this earth may not have even heard of the Christ, our Savior, but they are still animated and driven by that divine law and the love of God that is written on each of our hearts.

But, for all those that struggle . . . pssst . . . here is the secret. It's not just you. You are not alone. Christ animates you. The Love of God sustains you in your very being. Nothing you do is unseen by the Lord. Remember the words of the Lord to Isaiah: "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? [Absurd! But, e]ven should she forget, I will never forget you." (Is 49, 15 NAB)

Trust in Him. Recline in His love. Give yourself over to Him and be loved and supported by the benevolence that bore the weight of all of humanity's sin at once and continues to love us today. Rend your hearts and acknowledge that you need the Lord our God.

Praise the Lord for His divine mercy and love!

2. Today's Difficult Times and the Media

But, let's get to the heart of the matter that is gripping the world media's fascination right now concerning the universal, Catholic Church: the abuse of minors by priests and religious.

To be sure, the Church is not perfect, and she has never pretended to be. Thousands of years of tradition and authority founded on the person, life, and teaching of God's own Son, Jesus Christ--present in the magesterium--give the Church the authentic teaching authority she has. But, the Church is composed of humans who each sin and err. Even Christ's own twelve let him down continually, and one of them even betrayed Him, handing Him over to death by a kiss. How more of those that followed these men?

The abuse of children is a terrible sin. A sin, for sure that cries to God. But, every sinner is still loved by God. And, every sinner still has the opportunity for redemption and to live in eternity with our Lord. As our Lord said, one of the criminals crucified with Him saw paradise that very day.

So, the Church does not prosecute abusers with a view to inflicting great and public pain on them. The Church does not prosecute abusers with the intent of gaining headlines for the harsh treatment of those whom the world would scorn. The Church does not conduct swift trials to find a person guilty and hang 'em high.

That is not love--the instrument of God's goodness--that is hatred and vengeance. That is not the way of Christ, that is the way of men. This ultimately leads us to where the media is today: judging the Church by the standards of an amoral society--by mens' standards--and not by the standards of Christ, whom the Church is professed to in a loving covenant.

No person that seeks vengeance for the abuse of a child is ever going to be satisfied with the response of the Church. Does this mean the Church is engaged in a cover-up? No. Does this mean the Church is only trying to protect itself without concern for the victims? Absolutely not.

What the Church's actions mean is that the standards the universal media--having many faces and opinions, but united in trying to tear down the sacred in our world--apply are, by their nature, the wrong standards. The Church does not judge only as men do. The Church stands for the message of Christ, as judges mercifully as our Lord does.

So, shame on the popular media. Shame, shame, shame, shame on them for propagating the lies that they have. The media reports that I have read do not try to understand the Church, her practices, or her motivations to bring sinners to reconciliation and to love all as Christ loved us. No, the media reports that I have read try only to judge whether the Church is acting with the appropriate outrage, hostility, and harshness (in their narrow and condescending judgment). They ignore that their judgment is antithetical to the Church's mission and the true presence of the Church as the Body of Christ on Earth. Shame on them.

But, take heart of this point: the media has its proper role and the love of Christ is still with us in this time of apparent darkness, especially in this time of apparent darkness. Not all media reporting is bad. Those in the Church who have been justly dealt with because of their sins--who otherwise would not have been brought to light for their transgressions, and who by those transgressions would have continued to contribute to the victimization of the innocent and the deterioration of faith in the hearts of the innocent--have been brought to light because of the media reports. Would anything have changed in the Archdiocese of Boston if the Boston Globe had not dug out the story there? Sadly, I do not know the answer.

I do know this, we do owe our sincere thanks to the media, unfortunately, for those victims of clerical and religious sexual abuse who have been able to receive healing and assistance only because of the media reporting. Please, pray for all victims of abuse, especially victims of abuse at the hands of God's trusted and ordained ministers.

But, remember, each of the faithful is still called to be just that--faithful. Do not let the sinful acts, horrible as they may be, of a very, very few stand in the way of the faith in Christ that conquers all sin.

Peace be with you all.

08 April 2010

A quiet Octave

7 APRIL 2010. My prayer for all who find these pages is that you are having a blessed Easter season. In this first eight days of Easter (the Octave of Easter), I am taking a breather. But, April is a busy month for Dominican and other saints' feast days. So, stay tuned . . . .

04 April 2010

Ubi et Orbi

4 APRIL 2010. The Holy Father's Ubi et Orbi blessing for this Easter:
Cantemus Domino: gloriose enim magnificatus est.“Let us sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!” (Liturgy of the Hours, Easter, Office of Readings, Antiphon 1).

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I bring you the Easter proclamation in these words of the Liturgy, which echo the ancient hymn of praise sung by the Israelites after crossing the Red Sea.  It is recounted in the Book of Exodus (cf 15:19-21) that when they had crossed the sea on dry land, and saw the Egyptians submerged by the waters, Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, and the other women sang and danced to this song of joy: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed wonderfully: horse and rider he has thrown into the sea!”  Christians throughout the world repeat this canticle at the Easter Vigil, and a special prayer explains its meaning; a prayer that now, in the full light of the resurrection, we joyfully make our own:  “Father, even today we see the wonders of the miracles you worked long ago.  You once saved a single nation from slavery, and now you offer that salvation to all through baptism.  May the peoples of the world become true sons of Abraham and prove worthy of the heritage of Israel.”

The Gospel has revealed to us the fulfilment of the ancient figures: in his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has freed us from the radical slavery of sin and opened for us the way towards the promised land, the Kingdom of God, the universal Kingdom of justice, love and peace.  This “exodus” takes place first of all within man himself, and it consists in a new birth in the Holy Spirit, the effect of the baptism that Christ has given us in his Paschal Mystery.  The old man yields his place to the new man; the old life is left behind, and a new life can begin (cf. Rom 6:4).  But this spiritual “exodus” is the beginning of an integral liberation, capable of renewing us in every dimension – human, personal and social.

Yes, my brothers and sisters, Easter is the true salvation of humanity!  If Christ – the Lamb of God – had not poured out his blood for us, we would be without hope, our destiny and the destiny of the whole world would inevitably be death.  But Easter has reversed that trend: Christ’s resurrection is a new creation, like a graft that can regenerate the whole plant.  It is an event that has profoundly changed the course of history, tipping the scales once and for all on the side of good, of life, of pardon.  We are free, we are saved!  Hence from deep within our hearts we cry out: “Let us sing to the Lord: glorious his triumph!”

The Christian people, having emerged from the waters of baptism, is sent out to the whole world to bear witness to this salvation, to bring to all people the fruit of Easter, which consists in a new life, freed from sin and restored to its original beauty, to its goodness and truth.  Continually, in the course of two thousand years, Christians – especially saints – have made history fruitful with their lived experience of Easter.  The Church is the people of the Exodus, because she constantly lives the Paschal Mystery and disseminates its renewing power in every time and place.  In our days too, humanity needs an “exodus”, not just superficial adjustment, but a spiritual and moral conversion.  It needs the salvation of the Gospel, so as to emerge from a profound crisis, one which requires deep change, beginning with consciences.

I pray to the Lord Jesus that in the Middle East, and especially in the land sanctified by his death and resurrection, the peoples will accomplish a true and definitive “exodus” from war and violence to peace and concord.  To the Christian communities who are experiencing trials and sufferings, especially in Iraq, the Risen Lord repeats those consoling and encouraging words that he addressed to the Apostles in the Upper Room: “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:21).

For the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that are seeing a dangerous resurgence of crimes linked to drug trafficking, let Easter signal the victory of peaceful coexistence and respect for the common good.  May the beloved people of Haiti, devastated by the appalling tragedy of the earthquake, accomplish their own “exodus” from mourning and from despair to a new hope, supported by international solidarity.  May the beloved citizens of Chile, who have had to endure another grave catastrophe, set about the task of reconstruction with tenacity, supported by their faith.

In the strength of the risen Jesus, may the conflicts in Africa come to an end, conflicts which continue to cause destruction and suffering, and may peace and reconciliation be attained, as guarantees of development.  In particular I entrust to the Lord the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Nigeria.

May the Risen Lord sustain the Christians who suffer persecution and even death for their faith, as for example in Pakistan.  To the countries afflicted by terrorism and by social and religious discrimination, may He grant the strength to undertake the work of building dialogue and serene coexistence.  To the leaders of nations, may Easter bring light and strength, so that economic and financial activity may finally be driven by the criteria of truth, justice and fraternal aid.  May the saving power of Christ’s resurrection fill all of humanity, so that it may overcome the multiple tragic expressions of a “culture of death” which are becoming increasingly widespread, so as to build a future of love and truth in which every human life is respected and welcomed.

Dear brothers and sisters, Easter does not work magic.  Just as the Israelites found the desert awaiting them on the far side of the Red Sea, so the Church, after the resurrection, always finds history filled with joy and hope, grief and anguish.  And yet, this history is changed, it is marked by a new and eternal covenant, it is truly open to the future.  For this reason, saved by hope, let us continue our pilgrimage, bearing in our hearts the song that is ancient and yet ever new: “Let us sing to the Lord: glorious his triumph!”

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Happy Easter!


03 April 2010

Holy Saturday

3 APRIL 2010. From today's Office of Readings:
From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday,

The Lord's Descent into the Underworld

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

02 April 2010

01 April 2010

Holy Thursday

1 APRIL 2010. Here we are! The Easter Triduum is upon us with the mass of this Holy Thursday that commemorates the Last Supper of Christ and His disciples. Beginning with this evening's Mass of the Lord's Supper the Church begins the most solemn three day observance of the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord. The Mass of the Lord's Supper includes a commemoration of the Lord's washing the feet of His disciples, which also the subject of tonight's Gospel reading.

Holy Thursday Prayer to Appreciate the Mass.

O Lord Jesus, 
in order that the merits of your sacrifice on the Cross 
might be applied to every soul of all time, 
you willed that it should be renewed upon the altar. 
At the Last Supper, you said: 
"Do this in remembrance of me." 
By these words you gave your apostles and their successors 
the power to consecrate and to the command to do 
what you yourself did. 
I believe that the Mass is both a sacrifice 
and a memorial-reenacting your passion, death and resurrection. 
Help me to realize that the Mass is the greatest gift of God to us 
and our greatest gift to God