Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina – Sept. 23rd

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Saint Padre Pio is perhaps one of the most widely recognized saints from modern times. Having been born in 1887, he died in 1968, just forty nine years ago. There has been much written about this holy and humble saint. He even wrote a beautiful prayer booklet called “The Agony of Jesus,” which is available online and is a beautiful read. His feast day is celebrated on the 23rd of September, which is also the day my father passed away in 2014. I have written a brief post about my father’s death, back on his birthday in February, but as I was thinking about Padre Pio’s feast day, I started to remember all that happened with my father and his eventual conversion back to the Faith that he loved so much as a child. I’d like to share a bit of that with you today.

Throughout my years in high school, I can’t remember a time that my father wasn’t taking pills for his heart. It seems his family has been plagued by heart disease and as insurance against sudden death, my father always carried a small jar of pills in his pocket, just in case. Well, he survived through those years, but by the time I was married and raising my own family, my father’s heart troubles worsened…the doctor informed my father  that it was time for a quadruple bypass…and my father was worried.

I had already had my re-conversion to the Faith and was eager to share the Good News with my father… but he wasn’t buying...During these days most of what I told him seemed to go in one ear and out the other…he was too busy with the world and everything it offered him. But, as he learned about his surgery, he paused for a moment and listened…With God’s grace, I was able to convince him to go to confession...just in case...Afterwards, I gave him prayer books and told him I would be praying for him, and even though he barely let on, I now know, that he was in fact very comforted about the idea of having prayers said for him.

It was during this time that I discovered Saint Padre Pio. I fell in love with the saint, and decided to pray to him for his intercession for my father, since I felt that my father really needed the firm guidance that Saint Pio could offer.  His surgery went well, and soon he was in recovery. When I went to visit him, he grabbed my hand pulling me close. Smiling, he whispered in my ear, that he had experienced some wonderful things…I know he was just coming out from under the anesthesia…but my father was filled with a joy I hadn’t seen in him in years. He stayed in the hospital for several days…I can’t remember exactly how long… but I remember he started watching Mother Angelica on EWTN…much to everyone’s surprise.

One day when I visited him…he was beaming…he told me that an old, bearded, monk in a brown robe had visited him, bringing him Holy Communion.  I was stunned…he told me that the old priest had spoke to him….From the description he gave me, it sounded like he was talking about Padre Pio. My sister who was there, shook her head. She told me that she had only left his room for a few minutes and that the only person she saw distributing Communion was a man in a green sweater vest…but I knew….I believed that the saint had visited my dad…and even though he soon forgotI always remembered the kindness of Padre Pio when he visited my dad….

For the few weeks following his surgery, he would motion for me to come close so he could whisper things in my ear. He would say, “Ah, you’re here…I know you’ll understand…” It was a comforting time…I hoped…prayed… that he was ready to come back to the Faith, but unfortunately, just a few weeks after he regained his health completely, he allowed himself to be lulled by the things of the world and fell away from the Faith again… There were no more smiles…..no more whispers about grande things of joy .…and it seemed that the distance between us grew….but I never forgot that during his most difficult time….When I had reached out to Saint Padre Pio…He heard my pleas and comforted my father in a way that is beyond words….and even though my father wasn’t ready to turn away from his former life…I am certain… in retrospect…that Padre Pio always remained close to my father’s heart, never giving up, because years later, he was able to help guide my father home.

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                                                        Saint Padre Pio, pray for us. Amen.

 

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“Tebowing”…. When taking a knee, was a Form of Praise…Not Protest

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Same posture, different motive.

Remember Tim Tebow…and his kneeling? He did it as a form of praise to the Good  Lord who created him and blessed him…

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Before we allow ourselves to get pulled into the drama surrounding the protests involving the N.F.L. and what President Donald Trump said, we, as Faithful Christians, as children of God and brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ…. should be spending more of our time on our knees…taking to prayer, and honoring One Who made us…and Seeking His mercyfirst.

There is so much going on in the world that needs our attention…so much that needs our prayer….We have just witnessed three major hurricanes hitting different parts of the United States and it’s territories, causing catastrophic damage and affecting millions of people. There is so much real suffering going on…that to spend too much of our time worrying about who is taking a knee in protest of what someone said, is not a good use of our time. I am not saying that we should not be working to address the original issue that was being protested ….As children of God…each of us, regardless of our race…. our color, deserve to be treated with the same dignity that God instilled in each of us…we all deserve that….Right now, there is so much controversy surrounding the N.F.L. …a sporting event ... that it is merely serving as a distraction from more important issues that  Americans are currently facing. There is so much suffering in the communities that were hit by the hurricanes… so many have lost everything….some are even beginning to  lose hope...And as Christians, we should be focusing our attention in serving those in need… Bearing the Light of Christ to dispel the darkness that is surrounding them…in their time of need.

As we read in the gospel of Luke today:

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him
but were unable to join him because of the crowd.
He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside
and they wish to see you.”
He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers
are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” Luke 8 :19-21

When we realize that all who listen to the Word of God, are all brothers and sisters in the Lord…that we are a family, who should be able to work through our differences…We should be able to put aside our differences and act with charity to help those who need it, especially those, whose lives have just been turned upside down.

There will always be differences in man. Some will suffer more than others…some will have to work harder…. But we must always remember that even though we are unique in our creation..with different ideas…different views… deep down inside…as humans… there is no denying the fact that each of us is united by the Truth that Christ came to teach about our Father in Heaven… and those who hear His words and act on them…are His family…regardless of what the world says or thinks.

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Praying for the Conversion of North Korea through the Intercession of the Korean Martyrs – Sept. 20th

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The hostility that is brewing in North Korea, is nothing new. In the history of the world, Korea has a bitter history concerning the freedom of it’s citizens, in particular, the religious freedom of it’s people. Today in the Traditional Holy Mother Church, we honor the Korean martyrs, whose number reaches into the hundreds, perhaps even into the thousands, who were killed  for their Faith in Korea. The story of the Catholic Church in Korea is unique in that the majority of those who promoted the faith were laymen. Catholicism had reached into China and several of the religious books were smuggled into Korea. Once in Korea, they were read and discussed by the learned men of Korea. When faced with the ultimate Truth, that Christ had come to redeem mankind, many of the Korean men converted their hearts and worked tirelessly to spread the Faith among their fellow men.

One such Korean, Ni-seung-houn, went to Beijing in 1784 to study Catholicism and was baptized. Upon returning to Korea, he converted many others. In the late 1700’s the people were convinced that these converted Christians were traitors to their country. Many were rounded up and imprisoned…many more were killed. But the faith endured…the underground Church flourished by the dim light of candles and the Light of Christ that shone from the hearts of these brave and holy men. Many years later when a missionary priest returned to Korea he was met with  several thousand faithful Catholics who had kept the Faith alive regardless of the fact that they had never even met a priest! How incredible! Against all the odds that were stacked against It…the Holy Faith was kept alive in the hearts of the Christian Koreans.

For several years, the Korean people were able to worship, but once again, the persecutions began and it seemed that the Catholic Church would never overcome such obstacles. But God had other plans and continued to send brave men into Korea to establish His Church there. Several of these men were Paul Chong Hasang, a layman, who traveled back and forth between China and Korea, pleading with the Church in China to send priests into Korea. Finally, he was able to convince Pope Gregory X to recognize the Catholics in Korea and establish a Catholic Diocese there. Another Korean who was instrumental in spreading the Faith in Korea  was Father Andrew Kim Taegon, Korea’s first native son to become a priest. Unfortunately, only one year after returning to Korea, he was martyred. Severe persecutions followed once again, and the Christians hid, fleeing into the mountains.

Over the next century, the Catholic Church in Korea was taken over by communists and separated itself from the True Church in Rome. Many of those who remain Faithful, remain underground… the Church in North Korea is in dire need of renewal.

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With all that is going on in the world….particularly in North Korea with Kim Jong Un, threatening the use of nuclear missiles, we need to pray for peace. We need to pray for the conversion of hardened hearts everywhere. We need to remember the strength and determination of the Korean martyrs that we honor today…remember the fortitude that these martyrs displayed…particularly the laymen…and we need to pray…unite our hearts with theirs…and pray for a peaceful resolution to what is going on. I mean, even though I appreciate a president who shows strength and resolve when dealing with a ‘madman’, we must pray for the safety of all people…not just Americans…but especially for those Koreans who have maintained their devotion to the Lord…and have remained Faithful for all these years, despite living in a country that has been anything but Faithful. Saint Paul Chong Hasang and St. Andrew Kim Taegon, pray for us, and all the Faithful Christians who remain in North Korea despite all the hardships they endure, Amen.

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Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows – September 15th

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As we remember the suffering of the Blessed Virgin Mary on this Sept. 15th, it is also fitting for us to contemplate upon Her sorrowful face as we continue in our cleanup efforts after the storm. Here in north Florida we fared far better than those down south…and those in Houston….Here at least, the flood waters have receded, and the street lights are again changing from red to green … the power has been restored to most of the area. There is a bit of normalcy returned when you see store fronts lit up and people out and about, carrying on with their day to day living. Although I am sure that other places will be suffering for far longer than we can imagine…their pains a constant reminder of everything they have lost. As Faithful Catholics, we must remember them. We are obligated to pray for the suffering. Also, as Catholics we have been blessed by the Holy Mother Church, in such a way as to honor The Blessed Virgin Mary today, as Our Lady of Sorrows…We have been afforded a great grace in being able to unite our pains with her pain and meditate on Jesus’s death on the Cross…  By doing so, we are able to unite ourselves to Christians throughout the world who are suffering….in whatever capacity.

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As we gaze into Her eyes…we find they are filled with unspeakable grief…the pain of a Mother’s heart which has been pierced by a sword…the pain of a Mother who has lost her Son…Who has lost her everything...watching as her Dear Son is hung upon the wood of the Cross…

As I was reading the Magnificat magazine at Mass today, I came across this beautiful meditation on the Sorrowful Mother:

 “As other women bring to the dying the luminous gift of supreme tenderness, [Mary] brought a mother’s heart to the death agony of God. And she alone realized the immensity of the tragedy which centered all human history in the crucifixion of Love.
“God died and he was her Son: and she was his mother.
“The one being who could be with him, she stood erect in her inviolable solitude, offering her innocence as a witness to his, making all his opprobrium wholly her own, stricken with all our denials, suffering the pain of all his wounds.
“He looked upon her. He saw her sorrowing in all his sorrows, pierced through with his distress, bearing in all her being the wound of Love piteously condemned. In a creation rebellious from its beginning, she at least was wholly his.
“And he gave her to us: Behold your Mother. -Father Maurice Zundel

As I close today, I would like to remind you of the devotion of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Mother… the meditation upon the Seven Swords that pierced the heart of the Blessed Virgin. It is a beautiful way to unite yourself to our Dear Mother and her suffering. As we make our way through our days… carrying the burden of whatever crosses God has placed in our path….let us unite our hearts with hers… We will find our peace there, in the arms of the one who loved Him most…in the arms of the one who cradled Christ…. His Mother….Our Mother…Let our Faith unite us…as Christians...as brothers and sisters, redeemed by the blood of Christ.

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The Seven Sorrows Devotion

The Blessed Virgin Mary grants seven graces to the souls who honor her daily by
saying seven Hail Mary’s and meditating on her tears and dolors (sorrows).
The devotion was passed on by St. Bridget.

SEVEN SORROWS

  • The prophecy of Simeon. (St. Luke 2:34, 35)
  • The flight into Egypt. (St. Matthew 2:13, 14)
  • The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple. (St. Luke 2: 43-45)
  • The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.
  • The Crucifixion.
  • The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross.
  • The burial of Jesus.

 

 

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Exaltation of the Holy Cross

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In the tradition of the Holy Mother Church, September 14th is celebrated as the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which commemorates the many factions involving the Holy Cross. Not only does the feast  honor  the finding of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of the emperor Constantine, it also celebrates of the dedication of the churches built by Constantine on the site of the Holy Sepulcher and Mount Calvary. And finally, as Catholics, we must remember that this feast honors the Cross, as the means that Christ used to attain for mankind the gift of redemption from our sins, by allowing Himself to be hung and crucified for us all. As we honor the Cross, or even pay homage to the bits of wood that are from the Cross of Christ…we must remember that the honor is not paid to the wood itself… but rather to Our Lord, Jesus Christ…who suffered and died on that Cross, for the redemption of mankind. We must always remember that the Holy Cross must be honored as the instrument that Christ used to gain us our salvation…the Crucifix  is not to be shunned…or put away and forgotten…as some Christian groups profess. Rather, as faithful Christians, we should put the Cross of Christ at the center of our lives…embracing It and all that it represents for us … for mankind….

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As we go through our daily struggles…especially those who were recently affected by hurricane Harvey or hurricane Irma, we must remember that these daily struggles are the crosses that we must endure. We have to carry these crosses and allow Christ….allow God to help us with every adversity we encounter. As we recall the first reading at today’s Mass, which is from Numbers 21: 4-9,  we read about the Israelites and how they were complaining to Moses about the way that God had provided for them as they wandered the desert….We understand their plight, for some of them have been wandering for a long time … When faced with the constant burden of living in the harsh desert conditions,  many of them no longer feel the presence of God, as they had when He first saved them, but rather, they have begun to feel that God has forsaken them….they feel alone and forgotten…

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How quickly they  have forgotten the freedom He had gained for them…They were grumbling … ungrateful for what He had given them… The manna…which is the bread from Heaven...and then, when they hungered for meat, the quail which He supplied them with. It is beginning to seem that no matter what God does to provide for them, they are not satisfied, and God has had enough of their complaints and sinfulness! He sends down serpents that will kill them with their bite! Of course, after the people are bitten and falling dead, God has their  attention again, and soon they are begging Moses to pray to God, that He will forgive them and take the serpents away. But instead of taking the serpents away…He instructs  Moses to create a bronze serpent and show it to the people. He says, “Whoever kisses the bronze statue will be healed“…

It’s just like the Cross, and our daily crosses that we are called to bear for Christ. Instead of taking our crosses from us…God uses the Holy Cross of Christ as a means of  healing for all mankind. If we look at these crosses without faith… they will kill us.. But, if we look at these crosses…and embrace them as Christ embraced His cross…they will be for us our salvation. Just as kissing the bronze serpent gave the Isrealite’s their life back…so too, shall embracing the Cross of  Christ… by uniting our crosses with His and embracing them…We shall have our lives returned to us ….A life that was gained for us by Christ…through no merit of our own. A life that was gained for us by the Holy Cross of Christ.

So today, and we continue to clean up after hurricane Irma… and we are forced to throw away personal belongings that were ruined by the raging winds and flooding waters… let our minds and hearts contemplate the story of  Moses and his lifting up of  the bronze serpent to heal the Isrealites who were dead. If we are to get through these difficult times, we must focus our thoughts on how Christ was lifted upon the Cross for the healing of man. Like Simeon, who helped Jesus carry His cross up the road to Calvary, those of us who were spared huge losses,  must unite ourselves to our brothers who are burdened and help them with the weight of their crosses. As faithful Catholics, we must not lose hope, we must remind our brothers and our sisters, of the  song that our Holy Mother Church teaches us… It is the song of redemption that can only be sung from the wood of the CrossChrist’s Cross... We must be willing to follow Him…. in humility… and in obedience…until death…We must be willing to identify with Christ on the Cross and become co-redeemers….sharing in His suffering and taking upon ourselves our own crosses and uniting them with His…which is the Cross of man’s redemption.

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Praying to avert the Wrath of Hurricane Irma- Our Lady of the Hurricane

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Way back in the late 1800’s off the coast of Florida, near the nation’s oldest city of St. Augustine, a ship had come under fire form a terrible storm. The captain of the ship ordered that all of the extra cargo be dispersed from the ship as to balance out the weight, and prevent the ship from being toppled in the high waves of the storm. As the crew members searched through the cargo area of the ship, a large statue of the Blessed Mother was found. No one knew where it had come from, immediately the captain had everyone aboard pray for the intercession the the Madonna. Leading the prayer he said, “Dear Lady, if this storm passes,and we arrive safely in port, we will place your statue with the first Christian family we meet.

The storm passed and the crew and the ship made it to land unharmed, and the captain kept his promise, giving the statue to a family in St. Augustine. The statue is still enshrined in a wooden cabinet, placed behind a pane of glass. Through the years, when storms have threatened the coast, families have prayed for the Blessed Mother’s intercession, and through the years, St. Augustine has been spared from the blunt force of a hurricane’s blows. Last year, even with hurricane Matthew, the storm was projected to come further inland and was diverted further out to sea. And even though damage was done, and buildings were flooded…the damage could have been so much worse….

So as we watch  hurricane Irma pound the Keys, bringing flooding waters and high winds to all of south Florida, let us invoke the intercession of the Blessed Mother, under the title of Our Lady of the Hurricane and ask for God’s mercy for all of those affected… We pray for peace and calm for all of of those who are wrought with fear of the unknown…

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Prayer for Safety in Hurricane Season

O God, Master of this passing world, Hear the humble
voices of your children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed Your
order and returned to its former quietude. You are still
the Master of the land and sea. We live in the shadow of
a danger over which we have no control: the Gulf, like a
provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming
lethargy and overstep its conventional boundaries, invade
our land and spread chaos and disaster.
During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving
Father. Spare us from past tragedies whose memories
are still so vivid and whose wounds seem
to refuse to heal with the passing of time. O Virgin, Star of
the Sea, Our Beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with
your Son in our behalf, so that spared from the calamities
common to this area and animated with a true spirit of
gratitude, we walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to
reach the heavenly Jerusalem where storm-less eternity
awaits us. Amen

+The Most Reverend Maurice Schexnayder
2nd Bishop of Lafayette

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Celebrating the Feast of the Blessed Mother’s Nativity, as we continue to Track the Path of Hurricane Irma

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For those of us in North Florida, we wait….Watching as the path of hurricane Irma shifts and turns…we hold our breath…waiting… and praying…Much like those who are awaiting the birth of a baby…and praying that everything will go well…We are praying that God will watch over all those involved and keep everyone safe…there are those moments in our lives that lead our hearts to prayer…today is one such day.

In the Traditional calendar of the Holy Mother Church, September 8th is celebrated as the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, reminding us once again about the Feast of her Immaculate Conception on December 8th, when she was Immaculately conceived in the womb of her mother Anne.

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Saint John Damascene said: ” The day of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a day of universal joy, because through the Mother of God, the entire human race was renewed, and the sorrow of the first mother, Eve, was transformed to joy.

Of all the creatures ever created, Mary was chosen…was born to be the Mother of the Savior of the world. Not only was She chosen as the Mother of God, but the spiritual Mother of all men as well …The holiest of all God’s creatures, and because of her Son’s infinite merits, She was conceived and born immaculate…and full of grace…She was unmarred by the stain of Original sin…It is through her, as Queen of Heaven and of earth….that grace was given to men…It was her Yesher fiat…which allowed that the Son of God made-Man, would come into the world and redeem mankind, and it was through Her, by the Will of the Trinity, that the unbelieving would receive the gift of Faith, and it is through her intercession, still, that the afflicted are able to seek out God’s mercy.

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In the history of the salvation of man, the Blessed Virgin occupies a special place. She was given by the Lord, the highest mission ever commended to any creature…to be the Mother of Jesus…to be the Mother of God!  It is only right that we should rejoice that the Mother of God is our Mother too. Going to her often, as we would our own earthly mother, with all of our needs and requests, asking Her to intercede on our behalf with Her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

So as we wait…a bit anxious waiting for the coming storm, let us first rejoice at the enormity of this special Feast and then let us ask the Blessed Mother for her intercession, that with God’s grace we may overcome our feelings of fear and trepidation at the enormity of hurricane Irma… and  that we may have the strength we need to face whatever comes our way…storms included…Knowing that God is always listening, always waiting…but let us also remember…that His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, is never far from His side…and ever near to us as we pray…..

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The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help or sought your intercession,
was left unaided.

Inspired with this confidence,
I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother;
to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in your mercy hear and answer me.

Amen.

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