Wednesday, December 01, 2010


“Humility is the fundamental virtue by which a person remembers his utter dependence on God and God’s laws and God’s providence, and the utter folly of any action or any judgment or any self-glorification that is contrary to the will of God.”(1) 

St. John Chrysostom remarked that “Humility is the root, mother, nurse, foundation, and bond of all virtue.” Reverend John Mason of England exclaimed, “True humility makes way for Christ and throws the soul at his feet.” (2)

Abbe De Brandt told us, “Humility, to be true, must be deeply rooted in our hearts. Let us beseech our dear Lord to make us more clearly perceive, by the help of His grace, what means we should take in order to become truly humble. Humility must grow up out of our hearts perennially – a blossom growing from the deeply-rooted conviction of our nothingness.” (3)


Feast Day -December 9
Symbol - Eagle
Devotee of Our Lady of Guadalupe

St. Juan Diego exemplifies the Virtue of Humility par excellence.  His own very humble beginnings as a poor farm worker who labored in the fields and made mats well-prepared him for his extraordinary encounters with the Virgin Mary.  Juan had become a convert to Catholicism around 50 years of age.  When he first met Our Lady on the Hill of Tepeyac in Mexico,  he had been widowed in 1531 and was childless.  He was, no doubt, on his way to perform  corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Pope John Paul II praised Juan Diego for his simple faith nourished by catechesis and pictured him as a model of humility for all.    Juan Diego had defined himself to Our Lady of Guadalupe as, "I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf."  (4)

Our Lady appeared to Juan about 10 years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico and Catholicism had begun to replace paganism but with litle success.  As a result of Our Lady's apparitions  and subsequent miracles, 8 millions souls became Catholic in a period of 7 years.
Juan Diego's journey on that December morning began the devotion to Our Lady of almost an entire nation.  (5)

Juan's native birth name Cuautlatohuac meant "he who speaks like an eagle," and he took the name Juan Diego when he was  baptized in 1527.   He received 4 apparitions of Our Lady from December 9 to December 12, 1531.  The First one occurred early in the morning when Juan was walking by a hill and heard singing like "the song of many precious birds."  When the singing  stopped, it appeared as if the hills were answering the birds with even more beautiful songs.  He said to himself " by any chance am I worthy, have I deserved what I hear?  Perhaps I am only dreaming it"  Perhaps I'm only dozing? Where am I?  Where do I find myself?  Is it posible that I am in the place our ancient ancestors, our grandparents, told about, in the land of the flowers, in the land of corn, of our flesh, of our sustenance, possible in the land of heaven?"  (6)

As he looked up to the top of the hill and heard someone calling to him  "Juanito, Juan Diegito." He climbed the hill unafraid and met a maiden beckoning him closer.  Her clothing was shining like the sun and sending out waves of light.  All of the plants were shining.  He prostrated himself before her and heard her say, "Know, know for sure, my dearest and youngest son, that I am the perfect ever virgin holy Mary, Mother of the one Great God of Truth who gives us life, the inventor of men and women, the owner and lord of what is around us and what is touching us or very close to us the owner and lord of the sky, the owner of the earth.  I want very much that they build my sacred little house here in which I will show Him; I will exalt Him on making him manifest.  I will give him to the people in all my personal love, in my compassionate gaze, in my help, in my salvation, because I am truly your compassionate mother...." (7)

Then Juan's humility was expressed.  "My Lady, my Little Girl, now I am going to make your venerable breath, your venerable word, a reality;  I, your poor Indian, am leaving you for a while."
He proceeded to Mexico City and to the palace of the Bishop who listened to him and then asked him to return another time.  On his way home he met Our Lady again and told her of his dissappointment in not receiving permission to proceed.  He asked her to send a  nobleman who would be better received.  He is instructed to return himself the next day.   This time the Bishop is willing to accept the message and the messager if the Lady gives him a sign. 

Juan reports this to Mary in the Third Apparition.  She requests that he return the next morning for a sign and he continues on to visit his very ill uncle.  Juan missed his visit with Our Lady on Dec. 11 as the uncle had asked Juan to send for a priest.  On Dec. 12  when Juan went to bring back a priest, Our Lady made her 4th appearance.  Mary tells him his uncle is already well and sends him to the top of the hill to pick roses as a sign. Later on Juan carries the roses in his tilma (cloak) to the Bishop.  When he opens the tilma to display the roses, the image of Our Lady miraculously appeared.  The Bishop and all present knelt and were full of awe and reverence. The Bishop initially took the tilma to his private chapel.  Finally it came to its final place of honor in 1666 in the Chapel on Tepeyac.

One final apparition of Our Lady was on the same day, but she appeared to Uncle Juan Bernardino  and cured him at the very moment that Our Lady was telling Juan about his uncle being cured. (8)

Juan Diego lived to be 74 years old.  He was given special permission to receive the Holy Eucharist 3 times a week, and he walked 15 miles to receive the Lord.  (9)  He was canonized in 2002.


For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted. Luke XIV:11


Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.

Blessed Juan, you faced the skepticism and rejection of a bishop and the crowds to bring Mary's message to Mexico. Pray for us that when we are faced with obstacles to our faith we may show that same courage and commitment. Amen.  (10)

Happy Juan Diego, true and faithful man! We entrust to you our lay brothers and sisters so that, feeling the call to holiness, they may imbue every area of social life with the spirit of the Gospel. Bless families, strengthen spouses in their marriage, sustain the efforts of parents to give their children a Christian upbringing. Look with favor upon the pain of those who are suffering in body or in spirit, on those afflicted by poverty, loneliness, marginalization, or ignorance. May all people, civic leaders and ordinary citizens, always act in accordance with the demands of justice and with respect for the dignity of each person, so that in this way peace may be reinforced.  (11)

Beloved Juan Diego, "the talking eagle"! Show us the way that leads to the "Dark Virgin" of Tepeyac, that she may receive us in the depths of her heart, for she is the loving, compassionate Mother who guides us to the true God. Amen.  (12)


1. "Catholic Treasures," Issue 88-89

2. New Dictionary of Thoughts, Standard Book Company, 1960 p. 281

3. Growth in the Knowledge of Our Lord, Herder Book Company, p. 151

4. John Paul II - Canonization homily, July 31, 2002

5.  A Handbook on Guadalupe - Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, 1996 

6.- 8.


10. - 12. John  Paul II  Op cit

Monday, November 01, 2010


Meekness is the virtue that enables one to overcome the tendencies of anger, revenge, hatred, and enmity. …meekness presupposes the virtue of charity or love of neighbor, which provides the motives and the means of overlooking insult, injustice, and injury, real or imaginary, from others. (1)

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth,” announced our Lord in His Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:5)

“The meek are not those who are never at all angry, for such are insensible; but those who, feeling anger, control it, and are angry only when they ought to be. Meekness excludes revenge, irritability, morbid sensitiveness, and but not self-defence, or a quiet, and steady maintenance of right.” Theophylact, Archbishop of Acris in early 5th Century. (2)

“Meekness is love at school, at the school of Christ. It is the disciple learning to know, and fear, and distrust himself, and learning of him who is meek and lowly in heart, and so finding rest to his soul.” Reverend James Hamilton, British clergyman in 19th century. (3)


Feast Day: November 25
Patron of the Miraculous Medal

St. Catherine Laboure epitomizes the virtue of meekness.  She is known as the "Silent Saint." 
For over forty years, she lived a very quiet life in the convent, unknown as the one who promoted the Miraculous Medal.

She was born as Zoe Laboure May 2,1806 in Yonne, France to a middle class farming family.  When her mother died she was 9 years old.  She told Our Lady that she, Mary, was now her Mother.  She did not attend school, as she stayed to run the household for her father, as her older sister had entered the convent.  She could neither read or write, but she desired to also enter the convent.  Eventually she was able to do so at age 24 when she joined the Daughters of Charity in Paris.

Zoe had had a dream about a priest telling her that she would be tending the sick and elderly.  Was she surprised when she visited the convent of the Daughters of Charity and saw a portrait of this very same priest: St. Vincent de Paul.

She joined the Daughters of Charity and took the name Catherine.    Some have called her a visionary, as she did have visions of Our Lord, St. Vincent de Paul, and our Lady. 

"Shortly after she entered her new home, God was pleased to grant her several extraordinary visions. On three consecutive days she beheld the heart of Saint Vincent above the reliquary in which his relics were exposed, each time under a different aspect. At other times she beheld our divine Lord in front of the Blessed Sacrament; this would occur especially during Mass when he would appear as he was described in the liturgy of the day." (4) 

"Shortly after she finished her training as a postulant, Sister Catherine received a special privilege. She began to see the Blessed Mother. One night, she was awakened from sleep. A 'shining child' led her to chapel. There Our Lady came to talk to her. The Blessed Mother, in another vision, showed herself standing on a globe with streams of light coming from her hands. Underneath were the words: 'O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who turn to thee!'  Sister Catherine was told that a medal was to be made of this picture of Our Lady. She was also told that all who wore it would receive many graces from Jesus through his mother's prayers. "  (5)

Catherine asked her confessor, Fr. Jean Marie Aladel, to assist her in making this wish of Our Lady happen.  Two years later, her confessor approached the Archbishop of Paris who had 2000 medals made and presented many to Catherine.  Then Catherine commented that the medal should be made known to the faithful and she distributed many.   Yet she kept all of these happenings in her heart and only revealed them to her confessor as requested by Our Lady.

She lived quietly with the other sisters taking a most unassuming place among them and caring for the aged and the infirm in a hospice as St. Vincent de Paul had predicted.  At the very end of her life, she did tell her Mother Superior  that she had been blessed by Our Lady to promulgate her wishes and create the Miraculous Medal which Our Lady had said would grant great graces to all who wore it. 

St. Catherine Laboure died on December 31, 1876.  Visitors to the chapel may still view her as her body had been exhumed in 1933 and her body was as if she had just died.

"Though she had lived seventy years and was in the grave for fifty-seven years, her eyes remained very blue and beautiful; and in death her arms and legs were as supple as if she were asleep. Her incorrupt body is encased in glass beneath the side altar at 140 Rue du Bac, Paris, beneath one of the spots where our Lady appeared to her.

"In the Chapel of the Apparition you can gaze upon the face and the lips that for forty-six years kept a secret which has since shaken the world."  (6) 


O, Lord Jesus Christ, Who for the accomplishment of Thy greatest works hast chosen the weak things of the world, that no flesh may glory in Thy sight, and Who for a better and more widely diffused belief in the Immaculate Conception of Thy Mother, hast wished that the Miraculous Medal be manifested to Saint Catherine Laboure; grant, we beseech Thee, that filled with like humility, we may glorify this mystery by word and work.  Amen

(Miraculous Medal prayer) (7)


1. Catholic Treasures, pg.342.
2. The New Dictionary of Thoughts, Standard Book Co., 1960
3. op cit.
7. Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives  - Healing and Helping 4-58

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Obedience is the virtue that grants one the willingness to submit to lawful authority. When one obeys, one is "hearing" (from the Latin audire -to hear) and one is accepting the authority. Christ, Himself, is our model, as He subjected His life to His Father's authority.

"By his loving obedience to the Father, 'unto death, even death on a cross' (Phil 2:8), Jesus fulfills the atoning mission (cf. Isa 53:10) of the suffering servant, who will 'make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities'(Isa 53:11; cf. Rom 5:19). " CCC 623

We realize that we must practice the virtue of obedience in the natural order: in the family milieu as children subject to our parents, in the educational environment as students subject to teachers, in the business world as employees subject to employers, and in the civil society as citizens subject to legitimate laws and leaders. In the spiritual order we owe obedience as members of Christ's Mystical Body to His Vicar on earth, our bishops, and our priests. Religious also owe obedience to their superiors.

We are provided with the Decalogue, Holy Scriptures, and Tradition as foundations for our observance of obedience.

"Indirectly, obedience also imposes obligations on those who hold authority to direct and command others. There is a right use of authority and a wrong use; it can be neglected or abused to the detriment of subjects. Therefore, every form of obedience involves obligations on the part of those in command." by Rev. Donald F. Miller, C.SS.R.

Apostle of Divine Mercy

1905 -1938
Feast Day: October 5 

Helena Kowalska  was born  on August 25, 1905 in Glogowiec, Poland to humble and devout parents. She exemplified the virtue of obedience from her childhood and throughout her life as a Sister in the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy.

"From a very tender age she stood out because of her love of prayer, work, obedience, and also her sensitivity to the poor. At the age of nine she made her first Holy Communion living this moment very profoundly in her awareness of the presence of the Divine Guest within her soul."  (1)  In her teen years, she truly desired to become a religious but was obedient to her parents who did not approve.  Maria attended school for 3 years and at 16 years worked  as a housekeeper. 

After a vision of the Suffering Christ, she did enter the convent at age 20 and took the name Sister Mary Faustina of the Most Blessed Sacrament.  Sister Faustina lived a quiet and obedient life at several convents in Poland where she served as a cook, a gardner, and porter. Her unobtrusive life exteriorly "hid a deeply mystical inner life."  (2) 

"Externally nothing revealed her rich mystical interior life. She zealously performed her tasks and faithfully observed the rule of religious life. She was recollected and at the same time very natural, serene and full of kindness and disinterested love for her neighbor. Although her life was apparently insignificant, monotonous and dull, she hid within herself an extraordinary union with God."  (3) 

The Lord called her to be His Secretary. Here again she was obedient to Jesus and to her confessors who instructed her to record her visions, revelations, and the words of the Lord.  She wrote in her 700 page Divine Mercy in My Soul  (Diary 1693) that the Lord had called her to be his Secretary for His "most profound mystery."  (4)

"The Lord Jesus chose Sr. Mary Faustina as the Apostle and "Secretary" of His Mercy, so that she could tell the world about His great message. In the Old Covenant — He said to her —I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart (Diary 1588). (5)  

"The mission of Sister Mary Faustina consists in 3 tasks:

– reminding the world of the truth of our faith revealed in the Holy Scripture about the merciful love of God toward every human being.

– Entreating God's mercy for the whole world and particularly for sinners, among others through the practice of new forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy presented by the Lord Jesus, such as: the veneration of the image of the Divine Mercy with the inscription: Jesus, I Trust in You, the feast of the Divine Mercy celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter, chaplet to the Divine Mercy and prayer at the Hour of Mercy (3 p.m.). The Lord Jesus attached great promises to the above forms of devotion, provided one entrusted one's life to God and practiced active love of one's neighbor.

– The third task in Sr. Mary Faustina's mission consists in initiating the apostolic movement of the Divine Mercy which undertakes the task of proclaiming and entreating God's mercy for the world and strives for Christian perfection, following the precepts laid down by the Blessed Sr. Mary Faustina. The precepts in question require the faithful to display an attitude of child-like trust in God which expresses itself in fulfilling His will, as well as in the attitude of mercy toward one's neighbors. Today, this movement within the Church involves millions of people throughout the world; it comprises religious congregations, lay institutes, religious, brotherhoods, associations, various communities of apostles of the Divine Mercy, as well as individual people who take up the tasks which the Lord Jesus communicated to them through Sr. Mary Faustina." (6)

Sister Mary Faustina suffered from tuberculosis and from  innumerable sufferings which she accepted as a voluntary sacrifice for sinners.  She died in Krakow at the 33 years on October 5, 1938 with a reputation for spiritual maturity and a mystical union with God. The reputation of the holiness of her life grew as did the cult to the Divine Mercy and the graces she obtained from God through her intercession.On April 18, 1993 our Holy Father John Paul II raised Sister Faustina to the glory of the altars.  (7)


As Jesus told St. Faustina:

My Heart overflows with great mercy for souls, and especially for poor sinners…[I]t is for them that the Blood and Water flowed from My Heart as from a fount overflowing with mercy. For them I dwell in the tabernacle as King of Mercy. (Diary, 367)  (8)

As St. Faustina instructs us:

"Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God. These gifts are merely ornaments of the soul, but constitute neither its essence nor its perfection. My sanctity and perfection consist in the close union of my will with the will of God."  (Diary 1107)  (9) 

Jesus, I trust in You!
All for Thee, most Sacred Heart of Jesus. (300 days indulgence)


O Jesus, eternal Truth, our Life, I call upon You and I beg your mercy for poor sinners.
O sweetest Heart of my Lord, full of pity and unfathomable mercy, I plead with you for poor sinners.
O Most Sacred Heart, Fount of Mercy from which gush forth rays of inconceivable graces upon the entire human race, I beg of You light for poor sinners.
O Jesus, be mindful of Your own bitter passion and do not permit the loss of souls redeemed at so dear a price of Your most precious Blood. 

St. Maria Faustina  (10)


"It is not those who say to me, 'Lord, Lord' who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven." (Mt.7:21)


2. Ordinary People and Extraordinary Works  - Group 6, Card 65
4. Ordinary People, op cit.
6. op cit.
7.    op cit.
9. op cit.
10.Ordinary People, op cit.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010



"Temperance Restrains our Passions and the Attractions of Sense Pleasure. The Gift of Fear perfects this Virtue by making us more Generous in Mortifying our Senses and Passions. Impelled by this Holy Fear, we become more vigilant than ever . . . eager to renounce anything rather than Displease our Heavenly Father.”
(St. Jermone -From Divine Intimacy -299)

"When we speak of virtues — not only these cardinal ones, but all of them, every virtue — we must always have in mind the real man, the actual man. Virtue is not something abstract, detached from life, but, on the contrary, it has deep "roots" in life itself, it springs from the latter and forms it. Virtue has an impact on man's life, on his actions and behavior. It follows that, in all these reflections of ours, we are speaking not so much of the virtue as of man living and acting 'virtuously'; we are speaking of the prudent, just and courageous man, and finally, precisely today, we are speaking of the 'temperate' (or 'sober') man.

" Let us add at once that all these attributes, or rather attitudes of man, coming from the single cardinal virtues, are connected with one another. So it is not possible to be a really prudent, man, or an authentically just one, or a truly strong one, unless one also has the virtue of temperance. It can be said that this virtue indirectly conditions all other virtues, but it must also be said that all the other virtues are indispensable for man to be 'temperate' (or 'sober')." 
(John Paul II General Address entitled  "Virtue of Temperance" - 11/22/78)

Feastday: September 30
Patron of Librarians and Scholars
St. Jerome spent four years in the  Syrian desert area and wilderness outside of Antioch fasting and wrestling with his earthly desires.  He is a model of resisting the temptations, both from flesh and spirit.  He practiced severe austerities and focused on studying Hebrew and mastered it providing him with the expertise to later translate the Bible into Latin.
He was born in 347 in Dalmatia to a rich and Christian family. He was a good scholar, studied the classics in Rome, and was baptized in Rome at 18.  He became well-educated in Latin and Greek, traveled to Gaul, then Italy, and then Syria. He decided to become a monk.  Following a vision in which he beheld Christ, he redirected his studies to scripture and not secular writings.  Thus he could more completely be a follower of Christ, not of Cicero and pagan writers.  He wrote to a friend that in his vision Christ was a judge and said, "Thou art a Ciceronian. Where thy treasure is, there thy heart is also." (1)

Jerome traveled then to the desert and took up the study of Hebrew. He suffered from illnesses while practicing severe penances.  His words describe his state:
"In the remotest part of a wild and stony desert," he wrote years afterwards to his friend Eustochium, "burnt up with the heat of the sun, so scorching that it frightens even the monks who live there, I seemed to myself to be in the midst of the delights and crowds of Rome.... In this exile and prison to which through fear of Hell I had voluntarily condemned myself, with no other company but scorpions and wild beasts, I many times imagined myself watching the dancing of Roman maidens as if I had been in the midst of them. My face was pallid with fasting, yet my will felt the assaults of desire. In my cold body and my parched flesh, which seemed dead before its death, passion was still able to live. Alone with the enemy, I threw myself in spirit at the feet of Jesus, watering them with my tears, and tamed my flesh by fasting whole weeks. I am not ashamed to disclose my temptations, though I grieve that I am not now what I then was." (2)
Eventually Jerome received Holy Orders in Antioch, studied in Constantinople, and returned to Rome in 382 where he acted as secretary to the council.  Then Pope Damasus requested his service as his secretary and asked him to prepare a revised Latin text of the Greek New Testament.  He acted in this capacity for three years and also directed a group of patrician women in spiritual activities. He worked at tempering his fleshly desires, but he was not so successful in tempering his need to speak the truth boldly and at all times.  His work with these women led to unfortunate rash judgements by others.  "The infamy of a false crime has been imputed to me, but it is not the judgments of men which open or shut the gates of heaven."  (3)
He found refuge in the land of his Lord and settled in Bethlehem where he could walk in the footsteps of Christ. One of the Roman women, Paula, built him a monastery  where he continued his work on translating the scriptures into Latin, wrote numerous works of histories, polemics, biographies, and exegesis.   When Christians were forced to leave Rome when Alaric the Goth sacked the city, Jerome gave many refuge in his monastery.
He opened a free school there and also a hospice for pilgrims, "So that," as Paula said, "should Mary and Joseph visit Bethlehem again, they would have a place to stay."  He himself lived in a cave near the birthplace of the Lord. (4)  He continued translating the books of scripture including the Old Testament from the Hebrew.
"What has made his name so famous was his critical labor on the text of the Scriptures. The Church regards him as the greatest of all the doctors in clarifying the Divine Word. He had the best available aids for such an undertaking, living where the remains of Biblical places, names, and customs all combined to give him a more vivid view than he could have had at a greater distance." (5)
He died peacefully on September 30, 420 after a life of penances and fasting.  His translations are known as the Vulgate Bible.  In the Sixteenth Century, the Council of Trent declared these books of the Bible to be the authentic and authoritative Latin text.
Be ever engaged, so that whenever the devil calls he may find you occupied. (Letter 125, to the priest Innocent)

Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. (Jerome's Prologue to the “Commentary on Isaiah”: PL 24,17)

Show me, O Lord, your mercy an delight my heart with it.  let me find you whom I so longingly seek.  See!  here is the man whom the robgers seized, mishandled, and left half dead on the road to Jericho.  O kind hearted Sararitan, come to my aid!  I am the sheep who wandered into the wilderness - seek after me and bring me home again to your fold.  Do with me what you will that I may stay by you all the days of my life, and praise you with all those who are with you in heaven for all eternity.  (6)
St. Jerome was declared a Doctor of the Church.  Here is a passage from:
If you have trouble controlling your temper at times, being patient and staying calm interacting with others, then you are normal. Nearly everyone blows-up now and then. Grace and virtue can harness and tame you to some degree but unless you live in isolation you will most likely lose your cool occasionally. Our habits become ingrained in us. That's the most important reason why we should cultivate good habits, especially mental habits. Our thinking needs guidance because thoughts beget habits. Jerome can enlighten you. Implore him for assistance.

Perhaps because of his wide exposures to many people and travels, he developed a pugnacious and cantankerous disposition at times. His keen intellect could be contentious when his vision of truth differed from others. Jerome was a passionate lover of biblical, written expression. His ill-nature, that all creatures possess due to original sin, was forever attacking, challenging and defending his pursuit of scriptural expression.

Those involved in research, biblical studies, languages or translations of God's holy word have a sure friend and guide in Jerome. He had a razor-sharp mind and his pen expressed everything precisely.

3.  The Lives of  the Saints,  Omer Englebert, 1951
5.  op cit
6.  Ordinary People and Extradinary Lives, Group 6/6 Teaching and Sharing

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Chastity is the moral virtue by which, with the help of God’s grace attained by prayer and the Sacraments, human beings are enabled to refrain from all misuse of their sexual faculties. Chastity is called the angelic virtue, and the Sixth Commandment forbids sins against Chastity.

“Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and integrality of the gift.” (C.C.C. 2337)

"All the baptized are called to chastity.  The Christian has 'put on Christ,'  the model for all chastity.  All Christ's faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states in life." (C.C.C. 2348)


Feast Day: August 9
Patroness of Europe and Martyrs

St. Teresa, Blessed of the Cross, was born in 1891 in Breslau to a Jewish family and named Edith Stein.  She died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942 as a Carmelite of Jewish ancestry.

She is a remarkable saint for today's Catholics of all ages.  She lived a chaste life as a young woman who was one of the first German women to enter a university.  She enjoyed her fellow students, served as a nurse in Austria during World War I, joined world famous philosopher Edmund Husserl as his teaching assistant, and then earned her Doctorate in Philosophy as a Summa cum Laude.

Her conversion story from a Jewish girl, to a teenaged atheist, to a Catholic demonstrated Edith's interior search for Love.  When  in 1921 she happened to read the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila while visiting with a Christian friend, she began her mission to find that Love that St. Teresa had described.  Finishing the book overnite, she bought a Catholic catechism the next morning, attended her first Mass, and soon asked to be baptized.  (1)

She taught at a Dominican school and her students recalled the "little kindnesses she showed to homesick and lonesome girls." (2)  During that time she took personal vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience  and sought to join the Order of Reformed Carmelites whose foundress was  St. Teresa of Avila.  Her spiritual advisors advised her to wait.  They realized that her gifts as a philosopher were very needed in the world.  One personal factor was her own Mother's oppostion to Edith's conversion to Catholicism.  So Edith lectured at the University of Munster, translated works of Thomas Aquinas and John Cardinal Newman.  "She successfully combined scholarship and faith in her work and her teaching, seeking to be a 'tool of the Lord' in everything she taught. 'If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to Him.' " (3)

By 1933 the climate in Hitler's Germany presented a setback.  She lost her position because of the anti-Semitic laws.  Now it was time to enter the Carmelite convent in Cologne. She was 43 years old and took the name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.  The "Cross" was a recognition of the power of St. John of the Cross in her spiritual life, as well as St. Teresa of Avila.  She was allowed to continue with her intellectual interests and her writings.  She wrote pamphlets and booklets on Catholic subjects and continued her correspondence with many friends and former pupils.

In 1938 Sister traveled to Holland to join a Carmelite Convent away from the persecution of Jews in Germany.  "She prayed and suffered that God would comfort the Jewish people in their sufferings and lead them to the Catholic Church."    She wrote to he new prioress, "Dear Mother, I beg you, give me permission to offer myself to the Heart of Jesus as a [sacrifice] of atonement for the sake of true peace, that the Antichrist's sway may be broken."  (4)

Shortly after that in 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands.  Partly as  retribution for the Dutch Archbishop protesting the Nazi treatment of Jews, all Jewish members of Dutch orders were arrested and taken to concentration camps.  In 1942 Sister Benedicta and her own sister Rosa, now a Carmelite who had joined her in Holland, were apprehended by the German Gestapo.  They were taken in cattle cars to Auschwitz where they were killed.

Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1987 and canonized her in 1999.  His own words beautifully tell the heroic and virtuous life of this martyr.  "We bow down before the testimony of the life and death of Edith Stein, an outstanding daughter of Israel and at the same time a daughter of the Carmelite Order, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a personality who united within her rich life a dramatic synthesis of our century. It was the synthesis of a history full of deep wounds that are still hurting ... and also the synthesis of the full truth about man. All this came together in a single heart that remained restless and unfulfilled until it finally found rest in God." These were the words of Pope John Paul II when he beatified Edith Stein in Cologne on 1 May 1987. (5)


 "During the time immediately before and quite some time after my conversion I ... thought that leading a religious life meant giving up all earthly things and having one's mind fixed on divine things only. Gradually, however, I learnt that other things are expected of us in this world... I even believe that the deeper someone is drawn to God, the more he has to 'get beyond himself' in this sense, that is, go into the world and carry divine life into it." (6)

In 1938 she wrote: "I understood the cross as the destiny of God's people, which was beginning to be apparent at the time (1933). I felt that those who understood the Cross of Christ should take it upon themselves on everybody's behalf. Of course, I know better now what it means to be wedded to the Lord in the sign of the cross. However, one can never comprehend it, because it is a mystery."  (7)

Edith Stein's entry into the Carmelite Order was not escapism. "Those who join the Carmelite Order are not lost to their near and dear ones, but have been won for them, because it is our vocation to intercede to God for everyone." In particular, she interceded to God for her people: "I keep thinking of Queen Esther who was taken away from her people precisely because God wanted her to plead with the king on behalf of her nation. I am a very poor and powerless little Esther, but the King who has chosen me is infinitely great and merciful. This is great comfort." (31 October 1938)  (8)


Oh my God, fill my soul with holy joy, courage and strength to serve You.  Enkindle Your love in me and then walk with me along the next stretch of road before me.  I do not see very far ahead, but when I arrived where the horizon now closes down, a new prospect will open before me, and I shall meet it with peace.   (9)


Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you since you received him from God. You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for. That is why you should use your body for the glory of God. (1Corinthians 6:18-20)

For all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh and the concupiscence of the eyes and the pride of life, which is not of the Father but is of the world. (1 St. John 2:16)

The sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 2:14)

1)  Modern Saints,  by Ann Ball.  1983, pg. 375
2)  op cit., pg.375
4) Modern Saints, pg.376
6) op cit.
7) op cit.
8) op cit.
9) Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives, Group 2-58

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. (CCC 1807)

"Such disregard of the principles of justice between man and man has gradually distorted the necessary distinctions between 'mine' and 'thine' until in some instances the conscience is completely dulled.

"Despite all popular notions to the contrary, justice is still an essential part of the natural law, and every sin and fault against it will be punished by God. It is defined as the virtue whereby a man respects the rights of others to what they possess; whereby he gives to every man what is his due, and takes from no man anything except that to which he has a just title."  (Catholic Treasurers)


St. Bridget, or Birgitta, chose a life of a religious after a happy marriage to Prince Ulf Gudmarsson.  They had 8 children, including St. Catherine of Sweden. She is renown for your charity and piety. She sought to bring justice to the poor through her many good works and truth to the Popes residing in Avignon, France by urging them to return to Rome. She was loved and criticized for her attempt to accomplish this.

St. Bridget was born in Uppland, Sweden in 1303 to a family of royal blood. Her parents were models of devout Catholicism.  "When only seven Bridget had a vision in which our Lady placed a crown on her head, and when ten, after a sermon on the Passion, she saw in a dream Christ wounded and bleeding. These two experiences seem to have been the formative ones of her life."  (1)

She was wed at 14 and happily married for 28 years.  As a widow, she changed her style of life and led an ascetic life, joining the Third Order of St Francis.  Some denounced her for her new way of life to which she replied, " It was not on your account that I began, and your mockers will not prevent my continuing." (2)

Soon she founded the Order of St. Saviour, or the Brigittines, and traveled to Rome in 1349 for approval.   Pope Urban V did confirm her Rule in 1370. She also traveled to other countries to promote it's work.  In 1373 she made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where she walked in the Lord's footsteps during His Passion.  She encouraged devotion to the Lord's Passion in her congregation of nuns.  (3)  Her daughter Catherine became superior of the founding congregation in Vadstena

St. Bridget was inspired to recall kings and clergy to their rightful duties.  It was known that Popes Clement VI, Urban V, and Gregory XI "venerated her and had recourse to her counsel," even as she pressed them to leave France and return to Rome.  (4)

"St. Bridget had the gift of prophecy and worked many marvellous cures. Once widowed, she lived an ascetic life, eating very little, sleeping short hours, and praying continually. She followed a strict rule and practiced every possible kind of charitable work, even reducing herself to begging. She received constant inspirations which were either taken down by her chaplain and put into Latin, thus becoming known as her 'Revelations,' or took the form of letters to the succeeding popes, cardinals, and secular rulers of the day, telling them of their wickedness and how to reform their lives. Both in Sweden and in Rome she was either hated violently or loved as a saint. 'Strong and full of courage,' she was 'homely and kind and had a laughing face.' " (5)

Pope Pius IX approved the publication of "The Fifteen Prayers" as revealed by Our Lord to St. Bridget while she was in the Church of St. Paul in Rome.  One may find these at .


First Prayer:

Oh Jesus Christ!  Eternal Sweetness to those who love Thee, joy surpassing all joy and all desire, Salvation and Hope of all sinners, Who hast proved that Thou hast no greater desire than to be among men, even assuming human nature at the fullness of time for the love of men, recall all the sufferings Thou hast endured from the instant of Thy conception, and especially during Thy Passion, as it was decreed and ordained from all eternity in the Divine plan....

In memory of all these pains and sufferings which Thous didst endure before Thy Passion on the Cross, gran me before my death true contrition, a sincere and entire confession, worthy satisfaction and the remission of all my sins.  Amen

Oh Sweet Jesus!  Pierce my heart so that my tears of penitence and love will be my bread day and night; may I be converted entirely to Thee, may my heart be Thy perpetual habitation, may my conversation be pleasing to Thee, and may the end of my life be so praiseworthy that I may merit Heaven and there with Thy saints, praise Thee forever.  Amen  (6)


Lord God, You revealed heavenly secrets to St. Bridget as she meditated on the Passion of Your Son. Grant that we, Your servants, may attain the joyful contemplation of Your glory.

1. Catholic Information Network
2. Lives of Saints, Omer Englebert. 1951
3. Catholic Encyclopedia
4. Butler, op cit
6. The Pieta Prayer Booklet, 1982 pages 3-14

Monday, May 31, 2010


Fraternal charity was the emphasis in May. This month's virtue reflects on how to avoid sins in order to advance in charity. Some areas to consider are: slandering others, ruining reputations, showing jealousy towards one, engaging in gossip, making sarcastic remarks, and hurting others by one's angry outbursts.

Ways to overcome these failings and sins include trying to cultivate a genuine zeal for souls, realizing how far-reaching one's own example is in influencing others, and recalling those words of Our Lord, "Whatsoever you have done to the least of my little ones, you have done it to me."

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-1591)

Feast Day - June 21

Patron of Catholic Youth, Teenagers, and Caregivers for AIDS Patients

St. Aloysius lived his 23 years of life in an extraordinary manner.  He knew that he wanted to be a priest and suffer for the Lord when he was very young. He had to exhibit much charity towards family members and the Renaissance Italian society into which he was born.  He avoided placing himself in ways of temptation, tried to gain his father's approval to join the priesthood, and sought always to reflect a penitent heart.

Born into a noble family related to the powerful Medicis and many illustrious prelates, he was presented with a military career possibility at age 4 by his father and sent to live a soldier's life with his father, the Marquis of Castiglione, who was raising trooops for the King of Spain.  Aloysius called this period of his very young life his "life of sin."  He learned many "guardroom" expressions for which he was forever sorry. (1)

He grew up amid the violence and brutality of the Renaissance Italy and witnessed the murder of two of his brothers. (2)
At age 7 he began his "conversion" determining to become a priest. He prayed the psalms and the Office of Mary.  At 9 he attended Court in Florence and where he was educated.  Then he pronounced that he was taking a vow of perpetual chastity. His mother welcomed her son's desire to enter religious life, but his father tried to dissuade him and sent him to attend courts in many cities. The Marquis even had bishops try to change his mind.

By age 11 he was teaching catechism to poor children, fasting three days a week, and practicing great austerities. When he was 13 years old he traveled with his parents and the Empress of Austria to Spain and acted as a page in the court of Philip II. "The more Aloysius saw of court life, the more disillusioned he became, seeking relief in learning about the lives of saints."  (3)

At 17 he renounced his title and relinquished it to his brother exclaiming that he was the happier of the two as he was going to enter the Jesuit novitiate in Rome.  (4)

His piety was well-known to his fellow novices and even annoyed them.  He would say a Hail Mary on every step as he climbed the stairs.  He fasted 3 times a week and scourged himself nightly.  (5)

Holy Communion remained a central part of the Saint's life. His week was divided into two parts: the first he devoted to thanksgiving for receiving Christ, the second was preparation for the next Communion. On the eve of receiving the Eucharist, many of his fellow novices and priests would want to be near him to be inspired for their own masses because Aloysius would talk of the happiness that awaited him when he did consume the Body and the Blood.  (6)

During his early studies in Rome, he would regularly go out into the streets of the city to care for victims of the plague. He himself contracted the disease as a result of his efforts for the suffering and died on June 21, 1591, at the age of twenty-three, six years short of his ordination as a Jesuit priest. He knew that he would die on the Octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi and he did and had prepared for it, holding the cross and calling out "Jesus."

During his short life, he knew St. Charles Bellarmine who gave him his First Communion and St. Robert Bellarmine was his confessor.  Pope Benedict XIII canonized him in 1726.

O, Holy Mary! My Mother; into thy blessed trust and special custody and into the bosom of thy mercy, I this day, and every day, and in the hour of my death, commend my soul and body.  To thee I commit all my anxieties and sorrows, my life and the end of my life, that by thy most holy intercession, and by thy merits, all my actions may be directed and governed by thy will and that of thy Son    St. Aloysius Gongaza


I am a piece of twisted iron; I entered religion to get twisted straight.

1. Omer Englebert, Lives of Saints, 1951
5. Extraordinary Live, Ordinary People -Overcoming Obstacles
6. www.sjwebinfo/Jesuits/saints