Saturday, December 1, 2012

ADVENT AND ADVENT WREATH

The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means "coming or arrival".

Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas.  It is composed of four Sundays in which the fourth and last Sunday is the Sunday before Christmas.  

Advent has a penitential spirit similar to that of Lent.  The liturgical theme during Advent is the preparation for Christ's Second Coming which is called the Parousia.  

Advent is symbolized by an Advent Wreath, which is made of evergreen branches formed into a circle or any green leaves (in the absence of evergreen branches) that can be formed into a circle, and four candles - three violet or purple  candles and one pink candle which are inserted into the branches.  A candle is lit every Sunday until all four candles are lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent.  The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent, which is also called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word which means "Rejoice".  This word is taken from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon of this day's mass.  The color pink symbolizes joyful anticipation of Christ's coming.


THE MEANING OF THE ADVENT WREATH

Monday, November 26, 2012

HERESIES AND THE FIRST COUNCILS

It is said that the devil, first, attacked the early church from without through persecution.  But failing in this he changed his strategy.  This time he attacked from within through heresies.  The saints fought the heresies; while Holy Mother church protected her flock through Ecumenical Councils.

By the 3rd century, the church existed in relative calm and in some parts, even in luxury.  There was much time for everything specially for speculative theology.  Instead of being concerned with how to live holy lives, people were speculating on the nature of God.  The Hierarchy begun to enter into politics and Emperors begun to manipulate the hierarchy. The church became splintered into several groups.

St. Jerome observed: that one day the whole world woke up to find itself Arian, a heresy propagated by the priest, Arius, and backed up by a bishop, Eusebius.

Before the church could win her battle against the heresy of the priest Arius, a bishop, Nestorius, arose with another heresy denying that the Blessed Virgin was the Mother of God.  This was followed by the heresy of the monk Eutyches.  As usual God raised champions to refute the heresies; the church summoned councils to protect the faithful.  The Council of Nicea to expose the heresy of Arius, the Council of Ephesus to expose Nestorius and the Council of Chalcedon to expose Eutyches.

In fighting heresies, St. Irenaeus gave the cardinal rule: if anyone wants to know with certainty what is true in religious matters, he should study the teachings of the church written by a line of holy bishops going back to the apostles, i.e. the Fathers which are in the possession of the Catholic Church.

With heresies, the church needed no attacks from without.  The enemy was now within; from her own bosom, among her own priests, her own bishops and her own religious.


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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, November 21, 2012

MARKS OF TRUE DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

What is genuine devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary?

1.  True devotion to Mary is interior - it comes from within the heart and mind and follows from the love we bear her.

2.  True devotion to Mary is trustful - it fills us with confidence in the Blessed Virgin Mary, just like the confidence of a child for its mother.

3.  True devotion to Mary is holy - it leads us to avoid sin and to imitate the virtues of Mary.

4.  True devotion to Mary is constant - it is guided by faith and not by feelings.  It strengthens our desire to lead good Christian lives.

5.  True devotion to Mary is disinterested - it inspires us to seek God in His Blessed Mother and not ourselves.  Mary's true devotees serve her out of love and not for selfish gain.


Source: From the book True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
            Author:  St. Louis Marie de Montfort

Friday, November 16, 2012

FALSE DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Do you have a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary?  If so, what kind of devotion do you have?  According to St. Louis Marie de Montfort in his book True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, there are seven kinds of false devotions.

1.  Critical devotees - are those who do not have a clear devotion to Mary.  They criticize all those forms of Marian devotions and practices that do not appeal to them.  They hardly believe or question the truths of the miracles that are attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

2.  Scrupulous devotees - are those who consider devotion to Mary as separate from devotion to Jesus.  They consider devotion to Mary as an offense to Jesus.

3.  Superficial devotees - are devotees who do not have an interior devotion to Mary.  Their devotion consists only of the external practices.

4. Presumptuous devotees - are devotees who continue to live in sin thinking that God will accept them in heaven just because they have a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

5.  Inconstant devotees - are those whose devotion to Mary is only good at the start.  Sometimes they are fervent in their devotion, other times they are lukewarm.  Their devotion depends only on their feelings.

6.  Hypocritical devotees - are sinners who hide their sins and evil habits under the name of Mary.

7.  Self-interested devotees - are those who have a special devotion to Mary not because they love her but because they need her help and intercession.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

IMPERFECT AND STRUGGLING

One may think that I'm as meek as a lamb or as innocent as a dove just because I have this religious blog dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Two years ago, I attended a seminar on how to make a blog. After the seminar, I was excited and planned to create a music blog which will talk about my favorite songs, favorite music videos and favorite artists.

For many months, I read and reread the guidelines that were given to us during the seminar.  But every time I pray and told the Lord that I'm planning to create a music blog, there's always a voice inside me telling me to create a religious blog instead of a music blog.  I always refused, "No, I'm not worthy to create a religious blog, it's not for me, and what would I write, I'm not fluent in English."  But then, something inside me argued, "If you're not fluent in English, then why would you create a music blog?"  Yes, God speaks deep within our consciences, but I'm always ashamed to admit that God speaks to me in my conscience because I'm NOT a saint; I'm just a normal human being.

But for some reason, I was able to create this religious blog, which is now on its second anniversary.

I'm not comfortable that people who follows or read the entries of this blog might think that I'm pious and virtuous.  The truth is, I'm not perfect, I also have character defects and weaknesses.  But I always turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary for help, for guidance and for enlightenment.  I always ask her to "Please increase in me and I must decrease."  That is my battle cry every time I pray the Rosary, and will be till the end.

Please pray for this blog.

Monday, November 5, 2012

ST. CATHERINE OF GENOA'S VISION OF PURGATORY


There are three divisions of the church, namely: 

1. Church Militant - composed of Christians here on earth who are struggling against the devil, sin, the world and the flesh.  We, the living, belong to this Church.
2.  Church Suffering - means the souls in purgatory, and
3.  Church Triumphant - comprised of the saints in heaven.

The Church Suffering cannot help themselves but we, the Church Militant can help them by praying for them and by offering sacrifices for them.

I read so many books about the souls in purgatory, and I found out how badly they need our help.  So let's pray for them or better yet have a mass said for them. 



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

POPES AND THEIR ROSARY

We are in the last day of October, the month of the Holy Rosary. It is fitting to share to the world especially to the Catholics the reflections of the Popes about the Rosary.

     The Rosary is well suited to the honor of God and the Blessed Virgin Mary and for warding off impending dangers.  
- Pope Sixtus IV, 212th Pope

     The Rosary is the scourge of the devil. 
- Pope Adrian VI,  218th Pope

     The Rosary was instituted to appease the anger of God and to implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
- Pope Gregory XIII, 226th Pope

     Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.
- Blessed Pope Pius IX, 255th Pope

     The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life.  It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings.  There is no more excellent way of praying.
- Pope Leo XIII, 256th Pope

     The Rosary is the most beautiful and richest of all prayers to the Mediatrix of all grace; it is the prayer that touches most the heart of the Mother of God.  Say it each day.
- Pope Saint Pius X, 257th Pope

     Among the various supplications with which successfully appeal to the Virgin Mother of God, the Holy Rosary no doubt occupies a special and distinct place.
- Pope Pius XI, 259th Pope

     There is no surer means of calling down God's blessing upon the family than the daily recitation of the Rosary.
- Venerable Pope Pius XII, 260th Pope

     There are various practices of piety which bring about a constant union with God; the Church has wisely named the more important: mediation, devotional visit to the tabernacle, recital of the Rosary of our Lady.
- Pope John XXIII, 261st Pope

     The Rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty.  To it, I have entrusted any number of concerns; in it I have always found comfort.
-  Blessed John Paul II, 264th Pope

So what are you waiting for?  It takes at least two hours to watch a movie, more than an hour to watch your favorite TV show, at least two hours to watch a concert, but it only takes less than an hour to pray the Rosary.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.



Friday, October 26, 2012

THE SEVEN NEW SAINTS

Last Sunday, October 21, 2012 was the canonization of seven new saints at the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI.

Here are the seven new saints:

1.  Jacques Berthieu (November 1838 - June 1896) - Jesuit priest and missionary from Cantal, France who was killed in Madagascar for refusing to renounce his faith rather than accepting an offer from a village chieftain.  Beatified on October 17, 1965 by Pope Paul VI.

2.  Pedro Calungsod (c. 1654 - April 2, 1672) - Teenage sacristan and catechist from the Visayas region in the Philippines who went with the Jesuit missionaries to Guam and helped priests in converting the natives.  He was speared by a village chieftain.  Beatified on March 5, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.

3.  Giovanni Battista Piamarta (November 1841 - April 1913) - Italian priest, educator and founder of the "Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth".  Beatified on October 12, 1997 by Pope John Paul II.

4.  Carmen Salles y Barangueras (April 1848 - July 1911) - Spanish nun and founder of the "Order of the Missionary Conceptionists of Hope".  Beatified on October 12, 1997 by Pope John Paul II.

5.  Marianne Cope (January 1838 - August 1918) - American nun of the Sisters of Saint Francis Syracuse, New York.  She spent her life caring for lepers on the island of Moloka'i, Hawaii.  Beatified on May 14, 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.

6.  Kateri Tekakwitha (1656 - April 1680) - A native American virgin of the Mohawk tribe and religious laywoman.  She professed a vow of virginity until her death at the age of 24.  She was shunned by her tribe for her conversion to Catholicism.  Also known as "Lily of the Mohawks".  Beatified on June 22, 1980 by Pope John Paul II.

7.  Anna Schaffer (February 1982 - October 1925) - A paralyzed laywoman from Germany.  She offered all her sufferings for the Holy Church and for the Church's pastors.  Beatified on March 7, 1995 by Pope John Paul II.

St. Jacques Berthieu, pray for us.
St. Pedro Calungsod, pray for us.
St. Giovanni Battista Piamarta, pray for us.
St. Carmen Barangueras, pray for us.
St. Marianne Cope, pray for us.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.
St. Anna Schaffer, pray for us.
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References:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

ST. PEDRO CALUNGSOD: The Second Filipino Saint

October 21, 2012 is a very significant day for Filipino Catholics around the world.  Today is the canonization of the second Filipino saint, Blessed Pedro Calungsod who from now on will be known as St. Pedro Calungsod. But who is St. Pedro Calungsod?

Name:  Pedro Calungsod (Calonsor in Spanish records)
Date of Birth:  c. 1654
Birthplace:  Visayas region in the Philippines
Died:  April 2, 1672
Feast Day:  April 2

Stained glass image at the Archdiocesan Shrine
of Our Lady of Lourdes, Cebu City, Philippines
Pedro Calungsod was a teenage Filipino sacristan and missionary catechist who died a martyr's death in Guam in 1672.  His place of origin could not be ascertained since there was no record that could point to his exact birthplace. In historical records, he was merely known as "Bisaya" or in English, "Visayan". The Visayans are a Filipino ethnic group living in the Visayas group of islands in the Philippines.  Some of these Visayan islands are Cebu, Leyte, Iloilo and Bohol.  These islands were part of the Diocese of Cebu during the time of Calungsod. One of these islands is believed to be his place of origin. Presently, there are  numerous Calungsod families and individuals who live in Ginatilan, Cebu.

Road to Martyrdom

- On June 16, 1668, Calungsod accompanied the Spanish Jesuit missionaries to the Mariana Islands.  He and Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores went to Guam to catechise its locals, the Chamorros.

In spite of all the difficulties that the missionaries encounter:  irregular arrival of provisions, rough jungles and terrains, and frequent typhoons, they were still able to convert many natives.

Even though the missionaries were loved by the natives, there were still a handful of individuals who hated them.  Choco, a Chinese merchant spread rumors that the water used by the missionaries for baptism was poisonous and was the cause of eventual deaths of some sickly Chamorro babies.

- On April 2, 1672, at the village of Tumon, Guam, the wife of the village chieftain Mata'pang gave birth to a daughter.  Fr. San Vitores and Calungsod wanted to baptize the baby, but Mata'pang who was influenced by Choco strongly opposed the baptism.  He briefly went away to look for Hirao, a villager who was not a Christian.  He recruited Hirao for his plan of killing the priest and Calungsod. Meanwhile, with the consent of Mata'pang's Christian wife, Fr. San Vitores and Calungsod baptized Mata'pang's daughter.

When Mata'pang learned of his daughter's baptism, he was enraged and attacked Fr. San Vitores and Calungsod with spears.  At first, Calungsod was able to dodge the spears, he could have escaped but he did not want to leave Fr. San Vitores.  He was finally hit in the chest and fell to the ground.  Hirao finished him off with a blow to his head with a cutlass.  Fr. San Vitores immediately absolved Calungsod, but afterwards, the assassins killed him too.

Mata'pang took the priest's crucifix, crushed it with a stone while blaspheming God.  Then Mata'pang and Hirao tied large stones to the corpses' feet and brought them out to the sea on their proas (a type of sailing vessel).  They threw the corpses into the deep waters never to be seen again.  According to their fellow missionaries, Calungsod was either 17 or 18 years old when he died.

Road to Sainthood

  • October 6, 1985 - Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores was beatified. On the document of the priest's martyrdom, Pedro Calungsod's name was mentioned many times.  This led to the discovery of his life and death on the island.

  • November 21, 1994 - the cause for Calungsod's beatification process was opened when the then Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal asked permission from the Vatican to initiate the cause of Calungsod's beatification and canonization.

  • March 5, 2000 - Pedro Calungsod was beatified by Pope John Paul II.

  • December 19, 2011 - A miracle in 2002 which was attributed to the intercession of Blessed Pedro Calungsod was officially approved by the Vatican and qualified Calungsod for sainthood.

  • Today, October 21, 2012 is the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, the Philippines' second saint.

St. Pedro Calungsod, pray for us, especially the youth!

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References:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

SUMMARY OF THE HISTORY OF THE HOLY ROSARY

The Holy Rosary is composed principally and in substance of the "Our Father" and the "Hail Mary".  But what is the history of the Holy Rosary?

In 1214, St. Dominic, a priest, was working hard for the conversion of the Albigensian heretics, but his efforts were hindered by the gravity of people's sins.  Feeling so depressed, he withdrew into a forest near Toulouse, France where he unceasingly prayed for three days and three nights.  He did nothing but weep and do harsh penances in order to appease God's anger.  His body was lacerated that he finally fell into a coma.

The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and said:  "Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?"  

St. Dominic answered:  "Oh my Lady, you know far better than I do because next to your son Jesus Christ, you have always been the chief instrument of our salvation."  Our Lady replied:  "I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore, if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter."

St. Dominic arose and went straight to the Cathedral while the church bells were mysteriously ringing to gather the people together.  Then St. Dominic began to preach.

cc photo by Jenniferschwalm on flickr
At the very beginning of his homily, a storm broke out, the earth shook, the sun was darkened, and there was so much thunder and lightning that the people were very afraid.  Even more so when they saw Our Lady inside a picture which was displayed prominently raised her arms to heaven three times.

The storm and thunder stopped at the prayer of St. Dominic.  He so effectively explained the importance and value of the Angelic Psalter that in a short time, people began leading good Christian lives.

St. Dominic preached the Holy Rosary for the rest of his life both by his examples and by his homilies.

But many years after the death of St. Dominic in 1221, the devotion to the rosary waned and eventually was forgotten, until in 1460, a Dominican priest and theologian Blessed Alan de la Roche worked to re-establish the Holy Rosary after the Lord spoke to him on the Sacred Host:  "How can you crucify me again so soon?  You crucified me once before by your sins and I would willingly be crucified again by the sins you used to commit.  You are crucifying me again now because you have all the learning and understanding that you need to preach my mother's Rosary, and you are not doing so.  If you only did this, you could teach many souls the right path and lead them away from sin - but you are not doing it and so you yourself are guilty of the sins that they commit."

From St. Dominic's time up until the time of Blessed Alan de la Roche, the Holy Rosary has always been called the Psalter of Jesus and Mary. This is because it has the same number of Angelic Salutations or Hail Marys as there are psalms in the Book of the Psalms of David.  Ever since its re-establishment, people have been calling it the Rosary.  The word Rosary means Crown of Roses.  The Blessed Virgin Mary has approved this name of the Rosary when she revealed to several people that each time they say a Hail Mary, they are giving her a beautiful rose.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
St. Dominic, pray for us.
Blessed Alan de la Roche, pray for us.

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Source:
The Secret of the Rosary, Author: St. Louis Marie de Montfort




Sunday, October 7, 2012

PRAYING THE ROSARY

My favorite prayer is the holy rosary.  I learned how to pray the rosary when I was ten years old.  I came to know the praying of the rosary at an early age. When I was five, I saw many rosaries at the altar of my mom's room, and whenever I go to church I always saw people praying the rosary.  At the age of ten, out of curiosity, I asked my mom to teach me how to pray the rosary.

At first, I really don't know the story and the importance of the holy rosary.  I just love praying it.  My knowledge of the importance and history of the holy rosary came in 1993 when I bought a book entitled "The Secret of the Rosary" by St. Louis Marie de Montfort.  I read and reread the book.  The more I understand the secret of the rosary, the more I love praying it.

Just as the fetus is connected to the mother through the umbilical cord, Catholics are connected to the Blessed Virgin Mary through the holy rosary. While the umbilical cord is only temporary, the rosary is for a lifetime.  Its importance is second to that of the Holy Eucharist.  It keeps us within the shelter of Mary's immaculate heart, of Mary's influence, and most of all, it keeps us connected to the source of everlasting life, Jesus. Have you not noticed that when you are not able to pray the rosary for a day, you feel somewhat guilty or you feel that your day is incomplete? That's because the holy rosary is one of the most important nourishments for our soul.

The rosary has helped and saved me many times in the past especially during the darkest days of my life.  It gave me so much strength in the midst of depressions.  I told my friend who is a nun, that even though I was so depressed I never gave up praying the rosary and never stop attending holy masses.  The more I'm depressed, the more I clung to the Holy Eucharist and the rosary.  My nun friend then told me, "That's the reason why the devil failed to overcome you because even if you missed your snacks you still able to eat the most important meals."

It usually gives me inspiration and assurance that I'm in a good company whenever I see pictures of Blessed Mother Teresa and Blessed John Paul II praying the rosary.  I want to go to where they are now.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!


- Mary June D.

Monday, October 1, 2012

SHORT LIFE OF ST. THERESE OF THE CHILD JESUS

Name:  Marie Francoise Therese Martin
Birthdate:  January 2, 1873
Birthplace:  Alencon, France
Parents:  Louis Martin and Zelie Guerin
Siblings:  Marie, Pauline, Leonie and Celine

  • The Martin couple had nine children but four of them died (three infants and a five year old) of Enteritis.  All of the five surviving daughters became nuns including Therese.
  • Therese was baptized on January 4, 1873.
  • On August 28, 1877, Therese's mother Zelie died of breast cancer at the age of forty-five.  Therese was only four years old.  Three months later, her Father moved the family to Lisieux.
  • Towards the end of 1879, Therese had her first confession.
  • Therese became sick and on May 13, 1883, she reported that she saw the Blessed Virgin Mary smiled at her.  She was then healed of her sickness.
  • On May 8, 1884, Therese received her first Holy Communion.
  • On December 25, 1886, Therese experienced a conversion that changed her life.
  • On November 20, 1887, during a general audience with Pope Leo XIII, Therese asked the pope to allow her to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen.  The pope told her, "You will enter if it is God's will."
  • On April 9, 1888, Therese entered the Carmelite monastery  of Lisieux .
  • January 10, 1889 - Therese received her habit.
  • September 8, 1890 - Therese made her religious profession.
  • On July 29, 1894 Therese's father died after two years of suffering from stroke.
  • June 9, 1895, Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Therese offered herself as a sacrificial victim to the merciful love of God.
  • And, in 1896, Therese suffered Tuberculosis and died on August 19, 1897 at the age of twenty-four.  Her last words were, "My God, I love you."
  • Pope Pius XI, beatified Therese on April 29, 1923 and canonized her on May 17, 1925. 
  • Declared co-patron of the missions with St. Francis Xavier on December 14, 1927.
  • A minor basilica was built in her honor in Lisieux, France.  It was blessed on July 11, 1937 by papal legate, Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, and consecrated on July 11, 1951 by most Reverend the Archbishop Joseph-Marie Martin.  The construction of the basilica started in 1929 but it was stopped for some time due to the Second World War, the construction was completed in 1954.
  • Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Divini Amores Scientia, declared St. Therese of the Child Jesus as Doctor of the Church, on October 19, 1997.  She's the 33rd Doctor of the Church and the 3rd woman to be so honored after Saints Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Sienna.
  • Therese's parents Zelie and Louis were beatified on October 19, 2008 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Therese's LITTLE WAY means that to become a saint, it was not necessary to accomplish heroic acts or great deeds in order to attain holiness.  She wrote, "Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love?  Great deeds are forbidden me.  The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love."  Her little way is her spirituality's foundation.

Therese became known because of her spiritual memoir (The Story of a Soul) which she wrote in obedience to the order of the two prioresses in the monastery.  It was first published on September 30, 1898.  She is the patron saint of aviators, florists and missionaries. She is also known as St. Therese of Lisieux.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us!


Photo attribution:
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References:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

QUOTES ABOUT SUFFERING FROM THE SAINTS

Don't complain if you suffer.  It is the prized and valued stone that is polished.  Does it hurt?  Allow yourself to be cut, gratefully, because God has taken you in His hands as if you were a diamond.  An ordinary pebble is not worked on like that. - St. Josemaria Escriva

     Without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace.  The gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. 
                                                                           - St. Rose of Lima

Do as the storekeeper does with his merchandise; make a profit on every article.  Suffer not the loss of the tiniest fragment of the true cross.  It may only be a sting of a fly or the point of a pin that annoys you, an eccentricity of a neighbor, some unintentional slight, the insignificant loss of a penny, some restlessness of soul, a light pain in your limbs. Make a profit on every article as the grocer does, and you will soon be wealthy in God. - St. Louis Marie de Montfort

     Trials, tests and battles are meant to strengthen us, not weaken us.
                                                                                    - St. Cyprian

Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent. - St. John of the Cross

Suffer and offer up those trifling injuries, those petty inconveniences that daily befall you, this toothache, this headache, this cold, this contempt or scorn. - St. Frances de Sales

An iron is fashioned by fire and on an anvil, so in the fire of suffering and under the weight of trials, our souls receive the form which our Lord desires them to have. - St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

Understand that the affliction of mankind is no penal law, for suffering is medicinal in its character. - St. Augustine

Each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ. - St. John Paul II

The Lord sometimes makes you feel the weight of the cross. Although the weight seems intolerable, you are able to carry it, because the Lord, in His love and mercy extends a hand to you and gives you strength. - St. Padre Pio




Monday, September 3, 2012

SUFFERINGS

I'm afraid of sufferings, I don't like them, yet I've been through a lot of them in my life.  I've been through pains, depressions, confusions, hopelessness and fears.  I also experienced being judged rashly by others.  But thank God, I survived all of them.

I've been reflecting on suffering for many years.  I've been asking God so many questions about suffering.  At first, I thought God would give me all the answers in just one prayer, but I was wrong.  Instead of giving me all the answers right away, he chose to enlighten me little by little in many different ways: through books, different situations in life, the lives of other people, prayers and reflections.  He still continues to enlighten me until now.  I can feel that he's not finished with me yet.

These are some of the things that I learned about suffering:

  • Nobody is exempted from suffering, not even Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints.
  • The cross which is the ultimate symbol of suffering is also the symbol of salvation.
  • Suffering is purification.
  • Suffering, a consequence of original sin, acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus.                                                                           No. 1521, Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • "Understand, that the affliction of mankind is no penal law, for suffering is medicinal in its character."                                                                                             - St. Augustine

From The Handbook of the Legion of Mary, Chapter 9, No. 3
  • Every Christian should be made to realize that he cannot pick and choose in Christ.
  • That union with the heart and blood of Christ is not to be found in a phase of His life, but in the life entire.  It is as futile, as it is unworthy, to welcome the King of Glory and to repulse the Man of Sorrows, for the two are but the one Christ.
- In other words, if we want to follow Christ and be one with Him, we have to accept the complete and entire life of Christ. We have to accept not just the joyful Christ and the glorious Christ but also the suffering Christ.  It is not right to follow Christ but leave Him in the agonizing part of His life.

Once in my impatience, I shamelessly told Christ that He was able to endure all His sufferings because He is God, and I'm only human.  But Christ patiently enlightened me and showed me the lives of the saints who are also humans just like me, saints such as:
  • Blessed Margaret of Castello who was born blind, hunchbacked, lame, deformed and a dwarf; who was hidden by her parents for many years until she was abandoned by them because they were ashamed and could not accept her.
  • St. Rita of Cascia who was married for 18 years to a cruel and abusive husband.  Her marriage was arranged by her parents in spite of her desire to become a nun.
  • St. Bernadette Soubirous who was born in extreme poverty; whose family lived in a single room that used to be a prison cell; who had a chronic asthma and tumor on the knee, and later on as a nun, was afflicted with bone disease and aneurysm.
  • St. Maximillian Kolbe who was imprisoned by the Nazi's in Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, was starved to death in an underground bunker, and later killed with a lethal injection of carbolic acid.
  • And Blessed John Paul II who lost one by one his mother, brother and father before he was 20; who witnessed the Nazi occupation of his country, Poland during World War II; who during his pontificate survived an assassination attempt, but later suffered Parkinson's disease till the end of his life.
I also shamelessly complained to Christ, why is it that sometimes my sufferings are more painful than the sufferings of others.  But He patiently made me understand that each person has different degrees of suffering. Why is this so? It's because every person in this world has different strengths and weaknesses. What is painful to me may not be painful to others, what is painful to others may not be painful to me.

Until now, I'm still afraid of sufferings, but the lives of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints, and the knowledge that I'm not alone always give me strength.




     "Not with the Cross of the Savior behind you, but with your own cross behind the Savior." 

- Cyprian Norwid, Polish poet





Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CHAIN OF KINDNESS

Watch this video on Youtube

Every time you receive some kindness, don't let that kindness ends with you but spread it to others.  What makes this world beautiful is man's kindness to one another.  As what the video says, kindness keeps the world afloat.

Monday, July 16, 2012

OUR LADY OF MT. CARMEL AND THE SCAPULAR

A SUMMARY

It is widely known among Catholics that the Blessed Virgin Mary made a number of appearances to St. Bernadette in Lourdes, France in 1858, and that her first appearance was on 11 February 1858.  But only few Catholics knew that Our Lady's last appearance to St. Bernadette was on July 16, 1858 which happens to be her feast as the Lady of Mount Carmel.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the title of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the patroness of the Carmelite Order.  On July 16, 1251, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock in Cambrige, England. She appeared to him holding in her hands the Scapular. She said: "This is for you and yours a privilege, the one who dies in it will be saved."  This was probably in answer to the prayer of St. Simon Stock who was Prior General of the Carmelite Order at that time.  He always asked the Blessed Virgin Mary in his prayers to favor his Order with some singular privilege.

cc photo by jeromz on flickr
But the authenticity of the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Simon Stock was questioned many times by religious scholars since there was no documentary evidence that would support the truth of the apparition. There was even a time when St. Simon Stock's feast was removed from the Carmelite liturgical calendar when some 20th century scholars revealed the historical uncertainties of the apparition. But the saint's feast was restored in 1979 as an optional memorial on the condition that the Scapular vision would not be mentioned.  But in spite of that, devotion to the Scapular remains strong and widespread.

In 2001, on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the bestowal of the Scapular, Pope John Paul II addressed the Carmelite family saying, "Over time, this rich Marian heritage of Carmel has become, through the spread of the Holy Scapular devotion, a treasure for the whole Church. By its simplicity, its anthropological value and its relationship to Mary's role in regard to the Church and humanity, this devotion was so deeply and widely accepted by the People of God that it came to be expressed in the memorial of 16 July on the liturgical calendar of the universal church."

Nowadays, there are some people who wear the Scapular without any respect; they wear it as if they're wearing an amulet.

The Scapular is NOT
  • a magical charm to protect you
  • an automatic guarantee of salvation
  • an excuse for not living up to the demands of the Christian life.
(from a Carmelite leaflet)

The Scapular is a special sign of having a personal relationship with the Lord through the Blessed Virgin Mary, a sign which stands for the decision to follow Jesus. It should be worn with reverence.

_______________________________

Saturday, June 30, 2012

WHY DO PRIESTS NEED PRAYERS?

Because they are in danger: 1. From the world; 2. From the flesh; and 3. From the devil

cc photo courtesy of Northfielder on flickr
From the world.
The priest has to walk through a world with his mind always on God.  He must work in a world where pleasure is found in food and excitement; yet he is expected to find his happiness in the companionship of Christ.  To live this difficult life, the priest must have much grace, and grace is obtained through prayer.

From the flesh.
The priest is called to a superhuman life; yet he remains a human being. If he is to resist the strong forces of his nature, and truly live an angelic life, he has to be full of the grace of God, and this is obtained only by prayer.

From the devil.
Satan hates Christ, and never ceases trying to destroy Him and His Church.  If Satan makes even one priest fail, it means the offering of far fewer Holy Masses.  It means the glory of God is in some way injured.  It means scores of souls are lost to Christ.  So the devil lays his most cunning traps for priests, and prayer alone can keep them safe.

WHAT DO WE GET OUT OF THIS?

cc photo by thetalesend on flickr
When we pray for priests, we pray for ourselves, since a holy priesthood means a holier people.

When we pray for priests, we win the favor of Christ, for we are furthering His work and for vocations to the priesthood.  We are helping our children and our children's children by taking the surest means of preserving the FAITH for them.

East priest, it is said, influences the lives of at least 5,000 persons in his lifetime - for good or evil.

His responsibility is tremendous!

"No matter how we seek," says the lovable Saint of Charity, Vincent de Paul, "we shall always discover ourselves unable to contribute to anything more great than to the making of good priests."


Note:
I saw this article from a website which is no longer available.  I don't know who the original author of this article, if anybody knows the author, please inform me so I can give the author proper attribution.