Sunday, August 28, 2011

ST. AUGUSTINE

cc photo from Wikimedia Commons
Date of Birth:  November 13, 354
Birthplace:  Thagaste, Numidia (now Souk Ahras, Algeria)
Parents:  Patricius, a pagan and St. Monica, a Christian
Died:  August 28, 430 
Feast Day:  August 28

One of the most celebrated sinners turned saint in the Catholic Church is St. Augustine, who's also known as the "son of so many tears."

St. Augustine had lived an immoral life.  In the year 373, he left the Christian church and joined the Manichaean religion, much to the sorrow of his mother St. Monica who influenced him to Christianity at an early age.  He had a son born out of wedlock from a woman with whom he had an affair for many years.  But in the year 386, he was converted to Christianity and decided to serve God through priesthood. In 387, Easter Vigil, he was baptized by St. Ambrose at Milan along with his son Adeodatus. He was ordained priest in 391 and in 395, he was made Bishop of Hippo.  He died on August 28, 430. He was canonized by popular acclaim and in 1298, he was declared Doctor of the Church by Pope Boniface VIII.

St. Augustine's conversion was the result of the consistent patient prayers of his mother St. Monica.  This only shows that nothing is impossible with consistent prayers, especially prayers for the conversion of sinners.

This is my all-time favorite quote from St. Augustine:

"Reckon up the priests from the days that Peter sat, and in their ancestral ranks, note who succeeded whom; for that is the rock over which the gates of hell shall never prevail." 

St. Augustine, pray for us!


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Reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine_of_Hippo




Friday, August 12, 2011

ROME'S EXORCIST FINDING BL. JOHN PAUL II EFFECTIVE AGAINST SATAN

Rome's exorcist finding Bl. John Paul II effective against Satan :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

When I read the above news, I no longer wonder why Blessed John Paul II is effective against Satan.  I know the reason.  


St. Louis Marie de Montfort wrote in his book "True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary" that Mary is Satan's most fearful enemy. This remarkable book fell in the hands of Blessed John Paul II during World War II.  It made him understand that Mary is the surest and the safest way to Christ.  His motto "Totus Tuus" was an expression of his total consecration to the mother of God.  


St. John Bosco who also had a great devotion to Mary under the title "Mary Help of Christians" said, "Invoke Mary and you will see what miracles are."  If Blessed John Paul II is effective against Satan, it's mainly because of his true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.







Tuesday, July 12, 2011

BLESSED JOHN PAUL II'S TOTUS TUUS

"Totus Tuus".  It is a Latin phrase which means "I am totally yours." This was Blessed John Paul II's motto addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Have you ever wondered why John Paul II had so much devotion to Mary?

Source: Wikimedia Commons/cc
In his book, Crossing The Threshold of Hope, John Paul II explained that his motto Totus Tuus was not just an expression of piety and devotion, it was his total abandonment and personal consecration to the Mother of God. His deep devotion to Mary was manifested in many different ways; among these is his Coat of Arms which bears the letter M that stands for Mary. Even his coffin has a letter M on it.  He credited St. Louis Marie de Montfort for his Totus Tuus when he read the saint's book "True Devotion to Mary."

John Paul II came to know the book "True Devotion to Mary" when he worked as a factory worker at a chemical plant during World War II. He studied the book and oftentimes reread it to understand the doctrine which was quite new and unknown to him.  He came to understand that devotion to Mary is actually Christocentric, and it was deeply joined to his faith in Christ. This led him to write the encyclicals Redemptoris Mater and Mulieres Dignitatem and add the Mystery of Light to the three mysteries of the rosary.  He even said that reading the book was the turning point of his life.

Let us be inspired by Blessed John Paul II's devotion to Mary.  If we want to have a genuine personal relationship with Christ, then let us turn to Mary for she is the surest and the safest way to Him.

Ad Jesum Per Mariam!  To Jesus through Mary!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY IS SATAN'S MOST FEARFUL ENEMY

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head while you strike at his heel." - Genesis 3:15


That was what the Lord said to the devil who was poorly disguised as serpent.  But who's this woman that would definitely crush the serpent's head?  


I have long learned from the teachings of the Catholic Church that the woman is the Blessed Virgin Mary.  That was what I simply know and understand for a long time, until I read St. Louis Marie de Montfort's book "True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin".  I never knew that that particular bible passage was an introduction to Mary's role in God's plan.  


The following are excerpts from the book "True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin" by St. Louis Marie de Montfort which remarkably expounded the meaning of Genesis 3:15.


"God has established only one enmity - but it is an irreconcilable one - which will last and even go on increasing to the end of time. That enmity is between Mary, his worthy Mother, and the devil, between the children and the servants of the Blessed Virgin and the children and followers of Lucifer.  


Thus the most fearful enemy that God has set up against the devil is Mary, his holy Mother.  From the time of the earthly paradise, although she existed then only in his mind, he gave her such a hatred for his accursed enemy, such ingenuity in exposing the wickedness of the ancient serpent and such power to defeat, overthrow and crush this proud rebel, that Satan fears her not only more than angels and men but in a certain sense more than God himself.  This does not mean that the anger, hatred and power of God are not infinitely greater than the Blessed Virgin's since her attributes are limited.  It simply means that Satan, being so proud, suffers infinitely more in being vanquished and punished by a lowly and humble servant of God, for her humility humiliates him more than the power of God.


What Lucifer lost by pride Mary won by humility.  What Eve ruined and lost by disobedience Mary saved by obedience.  By obeying the serpent, Eve ruined her children as well as herself and delivered them up to him. Mary, by her perfect fidelity to God, saved her children with herself and consecrated them to his divine majesty."


That's why the ancient serpent is trying his best to discredit Mary at all costs.  From that day in paradise until now, Satan is continually trying to destroy any real knowledge of the Blessed Virgin.  But in spite of all these, Mary is still here, strong as ever, and still giving infinite glory to God.


Holy Mary, pray for us!









Sunday, May 1, 2011

THE DIVINE MERCY AND POPE JOHN PAUL II

Today, May 1, 2011 is a very significant day for Catholics around the world for two very important reasons:

1st - Today is the second Sunday of Easter which is the feast of The Divine Mercy.
2nd - Today is the day of Pope John Paul II's beatification.

A Short Background

In the 1930's, a Polish nun named Sister Faustina Kowalska received revelations from our Lord Jesus Christ - who appeared to her on February 22, 1931 - about God's mercy.  She wrote all of these revelations in a diary.  But in 1959, the spreading of The Divine Mercy message was banned by the church, and Sister Faustina's diary was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books which is a list of publications prohibited by the Catholic Church. The prohibition of Sister Faustina's writing was due to the faulty and confusing translations of her diary that were submitted to the Holy See.

In 1965, Pope John Paul II who was then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla intervened.  A new investigation of Sister Faustina's life and her diary was commissioned that led to the complete lifting of the ban in 1978.

Papal Support

cc photo by Beyond Forgetting on flickr

Pope John Paul II continued to support the spreading of The Divine Mercy message.  In 1981, he published an encyclical letter entitled Rich In Mercy. During his visit to the Shrine of Merciful Love at Collevalenza, Italy, he pointed out that it was his special task to propagate the Divine Mercy message.

Significant feasts of The Divine Mercy

- On April 18, 1993, feast of The Divine Mercy, Pope John Paul II beatified Sister Faustina, and on June 7, 1997, he prayed at St. Faustina's tomb in Poland.

- On April 30, 2000, feast of the Divine Mercy, Pope John Paul II canonized Blessed Faustina.  It was also on this date that the Pope declared the 2nd Sunday of Easter as the Divine Mercy Sunday.

- On April 2, 2005 or April 3, 2005 (depending on a country's time zone), feast of the Divine Mercy, Pope John Paul II passed away.

- Today, May 1, 2011, feast of the Divine Mercy, is the day of the beatification of Pope John Paul II by his successor Pope Benedict XVI.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!


________________________________________________
References:
- The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion, Revised Edition, by Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC with Vinny Flynn and Robert A. Stackpole, Marian Press 2001, ISBN-0-944203-58-2
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Faustina

Friday, April 22, 2011

WHAT IS FASTING?

We are now in the season of Lent, and fasting is one of the very important elements of its observance.  But what is the true essence of fasting?  The saints knew very well the real meaning of fasting, saints such as St. Maximus of Turin and St. Francis de Sales just to name a few.  Let's learn from what these saints taught about fasting.

Excerpts from St. Maximus of Turin's Sermo. 35 on Fasting.

1.  By fasting we control the passions of the body; by prayer we nourish the soul.
2.  There is a useless and empty fast that empties the stomach and the intestines but does not empty the mind of worldliness and the heart of wickedness.
3.  What's the use of abstaining from food while the soul is indulging in sin.  The body is weakened by fasting while the soul grows stronger in wickedness. The body refrains from strong wine while the thoughts wallow in the wine of avarice.  Such fasting weakens the body but does not save the soul.
4.  True fasting is to fast from sin, from food and even from the good things in life.  The body abstain from food so that the soul may abstain from vices.
5.  True fasting is meant to draw God's pity on us.  The only fasting pleasing to God is when we chastise our bodies with abstinence while clothing our souls with humility.

And some words of wisdom from St. Francis de Sales about fasting, he said:

"A man given to fasting thinks himself very devout if he fasts, although his heart may be filled with hatred.  Much concerned with sobriety, he does not dare to wet his tongue with wine or even water but won't hesitate to drink deep of his neighbor's blood by detraction and calumny."

St. Maximus of Turin, pray for us.
St. Francis de Sales, pray for us.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

LITTLE INFO ABOUT POPE BENEDICT XVI

Name:  Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger
Birthday:  April 16, 1927
Birthplace:  Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany
Father:  Joseph Ratzinger, Sr.
Mother:  Maria Peintner
Siblings:  Older brother Georg and 
              older sister Maria who died in 1991
Priestly ordination:  June 29, 1951


cc photo by Sergey Gabdurakhmanov on flickr
- He obtained his doctorate in Theology with a thesis entitled "People and House of God in St. Augustine's Doctrine of the Church" in 1953.


- Appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising in March of 1977 by Pope Paul VI.


- Received episcopal ordination on May 28, 1977.

- Made Cardinal by Pope Paul VI on June 27, 1977.


- Appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the International Theological Commission on November 25, 1981 by Pope John Paul II.


- Elected Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals on November 6, 1998.


- Elected Dean of the College of Cardinals on November 30, 2002.


- Elected Pope on April 19, 2005.

- Announced his resignation as Pontiff on February 11, 2013.

- Pope Benedict XVI step down as Pope on February 28, 2013.


cc photo by Catholicus Fluminensis  on flickr




Reckon up the priests from the days that Peter sat, and in their ancestral ranks, note who succeeded whom; for that is the rock over which the gates of hell shall never prevail.


                      -St. Augustine










__________________________________________________


References:
- Time, May 2, 2005, Vol. 165, No. 17
- http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/biography/index_en.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedict_XVI























Friday, April 8, 2011

JUST RETURNING

Werner, the famous German poet, was born and reared a Protestant. Later he became a convert to Catholicism.  A member of the royal household criticized him for doing so:  "I do not like those who change their religion.  I think they are doing something wrong." "Prince," answered Werner, "I am also of your Majesty's opinion.  I think that Luther, in changing his religion, did what was indeed very wrong, and for that reason I have returned to the religion he left."

                                                           - Anecdotes of the Great
                                                                Compiled by J. Maurus


Source:  Kerygma, Issue Seventy Seven, September 1996

Friday, April 1, 2011

WHY WE GET DIFFERENT LEVELS OF GRACE

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

I had wondered for a long time why God had preferences and why all souls did not receive an equal amount of grace.  I was astonished to see how He showered extraordinary favors on saints who had sinned against Him, saints such as St. Paul and St. Augustine.  He forced them, as it were, to accept His graces. I was just as astonished when I read the lives of saints to see that Our Lord cherished certain favored souls from the cradle to the grave and never allowed any kind of obstacle to check their flight towards Him.  He bestowed such favors on them that they were unable to tarnish the spotless splendor of their baptismal robe.  I also wondered why such vast numbers of poor savages died before they had even heard the name of God.

Jesus saw fit to enlighten me about this mystery.  He set the book of nature before me and I saw that all the flowers He has created are lovely. The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm.  I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wild flowers to make the meadows gray.

It's just the same in the world of souls which is the garden of Jesus. He has created the great saints who are like the lilies and the roses, but He has also created much lesser saints and they must be content to be the daisies or the violets which rejoice His eyes whenever He glances down. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being that which He wants us to be.  I also understood that God's love shows itself just as well in the simplest soul which puts up no resistance to His grace as it does in the loftiest soul.


- Source:  Marian Messenger, Volume 2, Issue No. 5



Sunday, March 27, 2011

MARY, IN SEARCH FOR THE LOST BODY OF CHRIST

Luke 2:41-49 tells us that Jesus, at the age of 12, went to Jerusalem with his parents for the feast of the Passover.  But after the feast, as they were returning home, Jesus remained behind without the knowledge of his parents.  After three days of searching, they found him in the temple of Jerusalem.


Ephesians 5:23 - "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

If Jesus, the head of the church was searched by Mary when he was lost for three days, then undoubtedly, Mary is also searching for those members of the church which is the body of Christ, who had gone astray and are still lost until now.

Let us pray for our lost brothers and sisters that they will return to the head of the church, Jesus Christ.


- Mary June D.

Friday, March 25, 2011

THE ANNUNCIATION

Today, March 25th is the feast of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38).

The Annunciation was the beginning of a vast and wonderful repair work to be done by God on the destruction caused by Adam and Eve. A woman caused the downfall of the human race; a woman will raise man back to God. A devil approached Eve; an angel appeared to Mary.  The devil tempted Eve to disobey and cast down the human race; an angel appeared to Mary to receive her obedience and raise up the human race.  The devil urged infidelity; the angel fidelity to God's will. The first woman believed the tempter; Mary believed her Maker. Eve brought destruction; Mary salvation.


Mary was deserving to receive God the Son physically in her womb because she has first received Him spiritually in her heart.


- St. Peter Chrysologus


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- Excerpted from St. Peter Chrysologus Sermo. 140 on Luke 1:26-29.
Source:  Winnowing Fan, Vol. XI, No. 1, January 1994


Saturday, March 19, 2011

ST. JOSEPH

Matthew traces the genealogy of Jesus from Joseph and refers to him as the husband of Mary.  But he does not allow us to have misconceptions about Christ's birth by immediately narrating the unusual manner in which Christ was born.

Mary, being espoused or betrothed to Joseph was living in the bridegroom's house for her protection.  It was the practice of the ancients.  The practice being such, Joseph was going to be very certain that nothing amiss could take place. We, too, must live our lives in such a way so no one can attribute wrongdoing to us.

Finding Mary with child, he who should be jealous and suspicious, he who should degrade her, in fact cherished her. So convinced was he that what was done was done by God. Though how it was done exactly, he was not sure until confirmed, not explained, by the angel. So instead of setting her aside, he kept her with him after he was assured and he ministered to her.  St. Joseph said to himself, this was done by God, this was commanded by God, this is all I know but this is sufficient.


Even Matthew could not explain more than to say "it was of the Holy Spirit."  But how, in what manner, no one explained and neither should we proceed any further nor require further explanation.  We must simply ask, is this God's work, is this God's command.  We must ask nothing else.  We could, of course, ask many questions. But we must not inquire. Just receive what is revealed and be curious not about what is kept secret.


Joseph, being a just man .... what is a just man?  One who is virtuous in all things.  Joseph believed in Mary; he did not want her degraded or disgraced. There was absolutely no jealousy or suspiciousness in him. He did not judge rashly even in the presence of overwhelming evidence. Joseph was not willing to grieve her.


Joseph, faced with a divine occurrence, did not know what to do. To keep Mary was transgression of the Law; to dismiss her was to degrade her. It was a dilemma.  Joseph does neither.  He was already a recipient of graces for the New Testament.  He was going to do both. That was a little difficult.  Wherewith an angel appeared to direct his decision.


Mary, on her part, knew what happened; an angel had just explained what was to happen to her.  She could have explained everything to Joseph.  She saw Joseph suffering; she could have re-assured him. But no.  She keeps silent.  She was not quick to defend or explain herself. She lets God do all the explaining.


Mary kept her silence; the angels kept silent.  Joseph must pass his test before he receives certitude.


If Mary explained herself in defense, she could have provoked Joseph instead. For a defense is an attempt to cloak guilt.  But there was no guilt; so there was no need for defense.  A defense from one under suspicion heightens the suspicion.  But obviously Mary did not defend herself because Joseph was not suspecting her of anything.  If she defended herself, then Joseph had reason to suspect. 


The angel appeared to Mary before the conception of Jesus so that she may be fully informed of what is to happen thus avoiding any perturbation.  The angel appeared to Joseph after the conception and surely enough Joseph was disturbed; but he tells no one, not even Mary. He humbly waits for God to explain.


The angel appeared to Joseph, not as to Mary or Zacharias or to the shepherds; the angel appeared as in a dream.  Joseph needed no vision. A dream was enough.  Mary needed a vision because what was asked of her was too great.


In his dream, the angel simply confirmed what he was thinking. Joseph knew that the dream was from God because it was a confirmation of what was in his heart.  It was an unquestionable sign; it was certainly from God.


The angel assures Joseph in a few words:  "Son of David;" he spelled the genealogy of Jesus.  "Fear not," for Joseph was afraid to make a decision contrary to God's will.  Then the angel confirms what Joseph was planning to do and what Joseph was thinking. "Take her unto thee as your wife," not as one given by her parents but as one given by God; and not as a wife but as one dwelling with her.  "Fear not, because that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit."  Joseph believed because he had mastered the prophecies regarding the Messiah.


Then the angel confers on Joseph the role of father, "And you shall call Him Jesus."  And what will be the work of this Child?  "For He shall save His people from sin."


- St. John Chrysostom, Homily IV


_________________________________________
Source:
- http://www.caryana.org/vignettes/vignettes22.html


Acknowledgement
The above article is from Winnowing Fan which is owned and copyrighted by S of G Foundation.  The publishing of this article in full is permitted without written authorization.








Wednesday, March 16, 2011

MARY, NOT AN OBSTACLE

I'm a Marian devotee, meaning, a Catholic who has a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  But in spite of my devotion to her, I still can't fathom the depth of her life and her mysteries, probably because of my sinfulness.  The simplest and the immediate knowledge I have of her is that she is my beloved spiritual mother, and the mother of God. I know that there's more to her than what I read about her from the bible or from books written by the saints and Marian scholars.


Far from being an obstacle to Jesus, the fact is, where it not for the Blessed Virgin Mary, I would still see God as someone who is "high up there," someone who's strict and authoritative just because He is God. But the Blessed Virgin Mary changed all that. Because of my devotion to her, I now see God in a totally different light.  Mary brought me closer to Jesus in a way that I can't explain.  All I can describe is that, the more I pray to her, the more I love praying to Jesus.  The more I cling to her, the more I've become devoted to Jesus.  That's why until now, I'm still a Marian devotee because I don't want to separate myself from Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life.


- Mary June D.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

LET'S PRAY FOR PRIESTS

Priests need prayers.  Even if they are consecrated to God, they still need prayers.  Even if they pray every day, they still need prayers.  Why they need prayers?

1.  Priests are also humans.
2.  Priests are not perfect.
3.  Priests also have their weaknesses.
4.  Priests are the primary targets of satan's attacks.

That's why they need prayers.  

The saints were very much aware of the need to pray for priests, that's why they include the priests in their prayers or composed special prayers for the priests.  Here are some of the prayers from the saints.

A PRAYER FOR PRIESTS
St. Charles Borromeo

O Holy Mother of God, pray for the priests Your Son has chosen to serve the Church.  Help them by your intercession, to be holy, zealous, and chaste.  Make them models of virtue in the service of God's people.

Help them to be pious in meditation, efficacious in preaching, and zealous in the daily offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Help them administer the Sacraments with joy.  Amen.


PRAYER for Holy Church
and for PRIESTS
St. Faustina Kowalska

O my Jesus, I beg You on behalf of the whole Church:  Grant it love and the light of Your Spirit and give power to the words of priests so that hardened hearts might be brought to repentance and return to You, O Lord.

Lord, give us holy priests; You yourself maintain them in holiness. O Divine and Great High Priest, may the power of Your mercy accompany them everywhere and protect them from the devil's traps and snares which are continually being set for the souls of priests. May the power of Your mercy, O Lord, shatter and bring to naught all that might tarnish the sanctity of priests, for You can do all things.  A ask You, Jesus, for a special blessing and for light for the priests whom I will make confessions throughout my lifetime.  Amen.

- Mary June D.








Wednesday, February 23, 2011

TRUST IN GOD'S WISDOM

 St. Claude de la Colombiere

It is usually the case that other people can see better than we can ourselves what is good for us.  It would be foolish to think that we can see better than God Himself, who is not subject to any of the passions that blind us, knows the future and can foresee all events and the consequences of every action. Experience shows that even the gravest misfortunes can have good results and the greatest successes can end in disaster.  A rule also that God usually follows is to attain His ends by ways that are the opposite to those human prudence would normally choose.


Joseph was sold into slavery and thrown into prison.  If he had felt aggrieved at these apparent misfortunes, he would really have been feeling aggrieved at his happiness for they were the steps to the throne of Egypt.  Saul loses his father's assess and has to go on a long vain hunt for them.  But if he had felt annoyed at the great waste of time and energy it caused him, his annoyance could not have been more unreasonable as it was all a means of bringing him to the prophet who was to anoint him king of his people.


Let us imagine our confusion when we appear before God and understand the reasons why He sent us the crosses we accept so unwillingly.  The death of a child will then be seen as its rescue from some great evil had it lived, separation from the woman you love the means of saving you from an unhappy  marriage, a severe illness the reason for many years of life afterwards, loss of money the means of saving your soul from eternal loss.  So what are we worried about?  God is looking after us and yet we are full of anxiety!  We trust ourselves to a doctor because we suppose he knows his business. He orders an operation which involves cutting away part of our body and we accept it.  We are grateful to him and pay him a large fee because we judge he would not act as he does unless the remedy were necessary, and we rely on his skill.  Yet we are unwilling to treat God in the same way!


- Source:  Marian Messenger, Volume III, Issue No. 1



Saturday, February 19, 2011

FOLLOW THE LORD FIRST

I have a twitter account.  I opened an account last year so I can follow my favorite dance crew.  I followed them for months.  I send them tweets, but I never receive a single reply from them. They replied to their friends' tweets and to celebrities' tweets but not to my tweets.  I also send tweets to other celebrities as well, and again I don't receive any reply from them.  I kept asking myself, "Have they seen my tweets?" or "Is there something wrong with my tweets?" They can see their friends' tweets or the tweets of their fellow celebrities but why can't they see my tweets?  I was hurt that I stopped following them.  I was thinking, maybe they don't reply to ordinary or unknown people like me. Maybe if I'm Oprah Winfrey, I would surely get replies from these celebrities.  Do they know that a single simple reply is worth more than a million bucks to their fans? They don't have to spend a single dime for this, it only requires their HEART to reply.  But I know that not all celebrities ignore their fans' tweets. There are still some celebrities out there who would gladly reply to their fans' tweets.


I prayed and complained to the Lord about this.  I reflected on this experience, and these are my reflections:


1.  How many times do I ignore people that I meet every day just because they're so ordinary, such as the security guards, the janitors and those people who are not good looking.  They're like invisible to me. I realize now that in a way, I'm also like those celebrities who didn't see or ignored my tweets.


2.  Every person in this world, no matter how ordinary or simple they may be is a unique and an important human being.


That twitter experience has enlightened my conscience.  Every day, when I go to my workplace, I now smile to the security guards and the janitors, and when I'm not in a hurry, I tried to chat with them.  I now try to put myself in their shoes.


I realized that before I follow any celebrity, I should follow the Lord first. I don't need Twitter, Facebook or cellular phones just to contact Him. He is available more than twenty four hours a day, and more importantly, He loves me and appreciates me just as I am.




- Mary June D.

Friday, February 11, 2011

OUR LADY OF LOURDES


Today, 11th of February is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

In 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in Lourdes, France to a fourteen year old peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous. She made a total of 18 apparitions. Her first apparition was on February 11, 1858.


SIGNIFICANT APPARITIONS
Among our Lady's most significant apparitions were the 9th and 16th apparitions.  


1.  It was on February 25, 1858, the 9th apparition that the Lourdes miraculous spring was discovered.  In obedience to the Lady's instructions to "Go and drink from the spring," Bernadette dug a hole on the left of the Grotto, and water came out of the hole which is now the spring that cures many sickness.


2.  The Lady's 16th apparition is perhaps the most significant of all her apparitions in Lourdes.  Father Peyramale, the parish priest who was known as "the priest of the apparitions in Lourdes" requested Bernadette to get the Lady's name.  On March 25, 1858, Bernadette asked the Lady to reveal her name.  The Lady answered, "I am the Immaculate Conception."  That answer from the Blessed Virgin Mary herself served as a divine seal of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which was declared by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854.

Divine Coincidences
It is interesting to note that there are two dates of the Lady's apparitions in Lourdes that coincides with two of the important Catholic feasts.


1.  March 25, 1858, the day when Mary told Bernadette that she is the Immaculate Conception, is also the date of the Solemnity of the Annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). The Solemnity of the Annunciation is celebrated every 25th of March.


2.  July 16, 1858, the date of Mary's last apparition in Lourdes, is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated every 16th of July, for on this day in 1251, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock, who was the Prior General of the Carmelite Order at that time.

Replica of the Lourdes Grotto at the
Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Cebu City, Philippines

Devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes spread not only in Europe but also in the Philippines.  So many churches have been built in this part of Asia in her honor.  Today, millions of pilgrims visit Lourdes each year, and a visit to Lourdes is considered incomplete without bringing home some water from the miraculous spring.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!


- Mary June D.







Monday, January 31, 2011

ST. JOHN BOSCO

Today, January 31st is the feast of St. John Bosco


A Summary of St. John Bosco's Life


cc photo by IMA Neuquen on flickr
- St. John Bosco or more popularly known as Don Bosco ("Don" an Italian term of respect for priests) was born Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco on August 16, 1815 at Becchi, Castelnuovo, Italy.  


- He was the youngest of three children of Francis Louis Bosco who died in 1817 and Margaret Occhiena.


- He had his first communion in 1826, and had his Elementary studies in Castelnuovo in 1830.


- He entered the Seminary of Chieri in 1835 and was ordained to the priesthood on June 5, 1841 in Turin.  In December of that same year, he began his work for the young when he met a 16-year old orphan, Bartholomew Garelli.


- He instituted the Salesian Order on December 18, 1859 with 18 members.


- He built a church in honor of Mary Help of Christians which is now the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin.  It was consecrated on June 9, 1868.


- The Salesian Society was approved by Rome on February 19, 1869.


- In 1872, he and St. Maria Domenica Mazzarello instituted the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco or Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.


- On April 3, 1874, Rome approved the Salesian Constitutions.


- In 1876, he instituted the Salesian Cooperators which is a movement of the laity.


- St. John Bosco died on January 31, 1888, and was proclaimed "Venerable" by Pope Pius X on July 24, 1907.


- On June 2, 1929, he was beatified by Pope Pius XI, and the same pope canonized him on April 1, 1934.


- On May 24, 1946, he was declared patron saint of Catholic editors, and on January 24, 1989, Pope John Paul II officially proclaimed St. John Bosco as father and teacher of the youth.


Don Bosco's bronze statue, beside the church of the 
Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Cebu City, Philippines


One of Don Bosco's famous teachings is the Preventive System, a method of education that he developed and practiced.  This system is based on reason, religion and kindness.  He believed that the youth should be disciplined with kindness and respect rather than with embarrassing or violent punishments.


Don Bosco is also well-known for his deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title Mary Help of Christians.  He built the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin in her honor. With regards to our Blessed Mother Mary, Don Bosco had this to say: "Invoke Mary and you will see what miracles are."


Don Bosco, pray for us!


_______________________________________________
References:
- Salesian Bulletin, Special Issue Vol. 40 No. 2 September-November 2010
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Bosco

Sunday, January 23, 2011

ST. JOHN BOSCO'S VISIT TO THE PHILIPPINES

NEGROS AND CEBU PROVINCES

St. John Bosco's relic is on world tour, and the Philippines is one of those countries his relic visited.  His relic made visits to different provinces, cities and towns in the country.  From December 5 to December 23, 2010, his relic visited the cities and towns of the provinces of Negros and Cebu.


The relic's first destination in the Philippines was the Negros province where it stayed there from December 5 to December 11, 2010.  The relic arrived in my hometown, Cebu City on December 12 at the church of the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, and from there, it visited other Salesian schools, homes, centers and the church of Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. On December 23, the relic was brought back to the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes for a farewell mass before its voyage to the nation's capital, Manila.  The relic's journey in the Philippines ended on January 15, 2011.  





St. John Bosco's relic at the Archdiocesan Shrine of
Our Lady of Lourdes, Cebu City, Philippines, December 12, 2010

Highlights of the Visit of Saint John Bosco in Negros and Cebu



What is a relic?


The Catholic Church calls as relics the remains of the saints after their death. Relics can either be the entire body or just a part of it. 


In St. John Bosco's case, his relic is his right hand which is carefully preserved and placed inside a special case.  The case is placed inside the replica of his remains which in turn is placed inside a glass urn.  As proof of the authenticity of the relic, the case's cover is topped with a document and Vatican seal, while the urn is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity from the Archbishop of Turin and the Vatican Secretary of State.  The relic's world tour is in connection with the preparation of the 200th celebration of Don Bosco's birth on August 16, 2015.


Reference: Salesian Bulletin, Special Issue Vol. 40 No. 2, September - November 2010, pp. 8-9.


Send off of St. John Bosco's relic, December 23, 2010
(Cebu City, Philippines)



In connection with the relic's visit to the Philippines, the Philippine Salesian family created a website (the website is no longer available) where the faithful can find the complete information, updates, videos and photos of the relic's visits in the different parts of the country.

St. John Bosco, pray for us!


- Mary June D.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

MARY, MOTHER OF GOD

Mary, Mother of God is not just a Marian title.  It is a Marian Dogma. Presently, the Catholic Church has four Marian Dogmas, namely:  1) Mary, Mother of God; 2) The Virginity of Mary; 3) The Immaculate Conception of Mary; 4) The Assumption of Mary.

What is a Dogma?  A dogma is a doctrine of our faith officially proclaimed by the Church. - from The Pope's Calendar 2008: Marian Dogmas, SHMI-QCP, Manila, Philippines.

cc photo by Heather Clemons on flickr
The first Marian Dogma, Mary, Mother of God was defined by the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. The Council was called to solve a dispute arising from the doctrine of Nestorius, Archbishop of Constantinople who  rejected Mary's title Theotokos (Mother of God). His doctrine emphasized the disunity of Christ's human and divine natures. In the end, the council condemned him for heresy. 

Here are some excerpts from the Council's statements most notably from Cyril, the Patriarch of Alexandria:
From the Third Letter of Cyril to Nestorius.

- He took flesh from the holy virgin and made it his own, undergoing a birth like ours from her womb and coming forth a man from a woman.
- He did not cast aside, what he was, but although he assumed flesh and blood, he remained what he was, God in nature and truth.
- We do not say that his flesh was turned into the nature of the godhead or that the unspeakable Word of God was changed into the nature of the flesh.  For he (the Word) is unalterable and absolutely unchangeable and remains always the same as the scripture says.


Therefore, because the holy virgin bore in the flesh God who was united hypostatically with flesh, for that reason we call her mother of God, not as though the nature of the Word had the beginning of its existence from the flesh (for "the Word was in the beginning and the Word was God and the Word was with God", and he made the ages and is coeternal with the Father and craftsman of all things), but because, as we have said, he united to himself hypostatically the human and underwent a birth according to the flesh from her womb.

From the Twelve Anathemas Proposed by Cyril and accepted by the Council of Ephesus.

1.  If anyone does not confess that Emmanuel is God in truth, and therefore that the holy virgin is the mother of God (for she bore in a fleshly way the Word of God become flesh), let him be anathema.

From the Letter of Cyril to John of Antioch about peace.

". . . . . For you must surely know that almost all our fight for the faith arose in connection with out insistence that the holy virgin is the mother of God.  But if we claim that the holy body of our common saviour Christ is born from heaven and was not of her, why should she still be considered God-bearer?  For whom indeed did she bear, if it is untrue that she bore Emmanuel according to the flesh? . . . . . For the holy prophet Isaiah does not lie when he says, "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which is interpreted God with us." . . . ."


The judgment against Nestorius


"Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been blasphemed by him, has determined through this most holy synod that the same Nestorius should be stripped of his episcopal dignity and removed from the college of priests."

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is celebrated every 1st of January. It is a holyday of obligation.


Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
____________________________________
References and sources:
- http://www.dailycatholic.org/history/3ecumen1.htm 
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Ephesus