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Thoughts for the end of the year.

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  • “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”
    Padre Pio 
  • “The reason for our existence is to quench the thirst of Jesus. When he asked for water, the soldier gave him vinegar to drink—but his thirst was for love, for souls, for you and me.”
    Mother Teresa of Calcutta 
  • “Jesus loves hidden souls. A hidden flower is the most fragrant. I must strive to make the interior of my soul a resting place for the Heart of Jesus.”
    Maria Faustina Kowalska 
  • “I pray God may preserve your health and life many years.”
    Junipero Serra 
  • “This is a serious warning cry: Surrender without reservation to the Lord who has called us. This is required of us so that the face of the earth may be renewed.”
    Edith Stein 
  • “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
    Pope John Paul II 
  • “I can have no other spouse, but Jesus Christ. I have considered myself content to live in poverty and misery for his love.”
    Kateri Tekakwitha 
  • “The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise him to the greatest extent of our powers.”
    Maximilian Kolbe
  • “Born poor, but of honored and humble people, I am particularly proud to die poor.”
    Pope John XXIII 
  • “All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example.”
    Teresa of Avila 
  • “Actions speak louder than words. Let your words teach and your actions speak.”
    Anthony of Padua 
  • “‘With my mouth,’ God says, ‘I kiss my own chosen creation. I uniquely, lovingly, embrace every image I have made out of the earth’s clay. With a fiery spirit I transform it into a body to serve all the world.’”
    Hildegard of Bingen 
  • “Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks and serve him with great humility.”
    Francis of Assisi 
  • “Faith lifts the soul. Hope supports it. Experience says it must. And Love says let it be!”
    Elizabeth Ann Seton 
  • “We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become.”
    Clare of Assisi

 

quotes taken from:
https://blog.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit/holy-quotes-from-catholic-saints

Feast of St. Francis Xavier 1506 – 1552, Dec. 3

St.FrancisX
“It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards one’s progress, nor the nature of the task, but the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken.”

Patron of: Missionaries

Credited with converting hundreds of thousands of people, St. Francis Xavier is considered the most successful missionary since St. Paul. In his own life, he evolved from being a sheltered, wealthy intellectual to becoming a fearless explorer traveling to newly discovered lands, happily living among the lowest castes of people, improving their lives with love and grace. The novena in his honor, the Miraculous Novena of Grace is said to bring the force of grace into our lives, creating a more harmonious relationship with the world around us.

Born in the Kingdom of Navarre, the Basque region of Spain, Francis grew up in his family’s castle. Much admired for his intellectual gifts, he was sent to the University of Paris where it was thought that he would become one of its more gifted professors. His life changed drastically when he met an older student named Ignatius Loyola who had a small band of followers. Together with Loyola, St. Francis Xavier formed a new religious order, The Society of Jesus (now known as the Jesuits) with the intention of spreading Christ’s word to the farthest corners of the earth. The King of Portugal sent Francis Xavier on his first mission to Goa in India where his country had a colony. He was concerned about the lack of religious practice available to his people and Francis’s mandate was to form a ministry for his Portuguese subjects. However, the European merchants and traders were more interested in gambling, drinking, slave trading and prostitution than in any religious preachings. When Francis Xavier attempted to meet with the Brahmin or wealthy local people, he was equally rebuffed. He then decided he would work with the lowest of the low, shocking both European and upper caste Indians by openly treating beggars, prostitutes, prisoners and the illegitimate as equals. The many eloquent letters he wrote about his life and work among society’s outcasts are still enlightening reading today.

Gifted in languages, Francis Xavier had the ability to easily communicate in the various dialects spoken in the region. He is credited with saving the Paravas, an indigenous people who were pearl divers on the coastal islands from decimation and enslavement by the various Arab and European traders who plagued them. Excited by his great success, Francis Xavier travelled throughout the Far East and he was the first missionary to travel to Japan. Not always met with the same respect and openness that he offered others, he endured his frustration with good spirits. He died on the island of Chang-Chuen-Shan, never realizing his dream of reaching mainland China. His body was put in quicklime and taken back to Goa, where it lies in a much visited shrine.

Novena prayer
Most amiable and most loving Saint Francis Xavier, in union with you I reverently adore the Divine Majesty. I rejoice exceedingly on account of the marvelous gifts which God bestowed upon you. I thank God for the special graces he gave you during your life on earth and for the great glory that came to you after your death. I implore you to obtain for me, through your powerful intercession, the greatest of all blessings, that of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beg of you to secure for me the special favor I ask in this novena. In asking this favor, I am fully resigned to the Divine Will. I pray and desire only to obtain that which is most conducive to the greater glory of God and the greater good of my soul. Amen.

(Here you may mention the grace, spiritual or temporal that you wish to obtain).
(Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one Glory Be).
There are two times a year when the Miraculous Novena of Grace is considered especially powerful: from March 4 to March 12 and from November 25 to December 3.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini 1850-1917

MotherCabrini“We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success; nor on sciences that cloud the intellect. Neither does it depend on arms and human industries, but on Jesus alone.”
Invoked For:
Immigrants

The first American citizen to be named a saint, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini never desired to travel to, much less spend her life in her adopted country of the United States of America. Born Maria Francesca Cabrini in northern Italy, she intended to use her schoolteacher’s degree to work as a missionary in China. Suffering through a smallpox epidemic which killed her parents, she was turned down by two convents she attempted to join. When she was finally accepted by one, she was sent to a small town to run an orphanage which was eventually closed. Enthralled by the works of Saint Francis Xavier, the Jesuit Missionary, she took his name and founded an order of nuns, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Many were shocked to see how quickly her new order was approved by the Pope. Instead of granting her wish to continue her namesake’s work in China, Pope Leo XIII told her, “Your China will be the United States.”

At that time 50,000 Italian immigrants lived crammed in a filthy ghetto in New York City. There was no one there to help or intercede for them. Arriving with six other nuns, Mother Cabrini was told to go home by the archbishop of New York. Instead, she moved her nuns into the Italian slums and immediately opened an orphanage. Through her personal tenacity as well as her willingness to live among the poor, Mother Cabrini set an impressive example for those trying to enact social reforms. Gifted with an innate business sense, and due to the great success her order had in caring for the destitute and displaced, Mother Cabrini was able to raise money from all levels of society. Within a few short years the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart had opened orphanages, schools, hospitals and nurse’s homes throughout the United States, Central America, Argentina, Brazil, France, Spain, England and Italy. She became a United States citizen in 1909.

Though she was a tireless worker and an excellent administrator, Mother Cabrini felt the most important part of her day was the time she spent in mediation. Devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she felt great strength was to be found in humility, obedience and a quiet atmosphere. In her own case, by following the Pope’s orders at the expense of her personal dreams, she found more success in her mission than she could ever imagine was possible. At the time of her death, she had sixty seven foundations and over thirteen hundred missionaries carrying out her work.

Novena prayer
O loving Savior, infinitely generous, seeking only our interest, from your Sacred Heart, came these words of pleading love: “Come to me all you that labor and are burdened and I will refresh you.” Relying on this promise of your infinite charity, we come to you and in the lowliness of our hearts earnestly beg you to grant us the favor we ask in this novena,
(mention your request here)
through the intercession of your faithful servant, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini.
Amen.

St. Catherine of Alexandria 290 – 305

St.CatherineofA
“If you are ruled by the mind you are king, if by the body you are a slave.”

Patron of: Philosophy

Brilliant and beautiful, Catherine of Alexandria was a force to be reckoned with. While still in her teens she had mastered philosophy, several languages and medicine. Because of her clarity of mind, she had great poise and self-confidence. One of the Fourteen Heavenly Helpers, the people of the Middle Ages believed she was one of the most powerful of early saints and invoked her for everything. Definite in her beliefs, we call on her for help in our studies or before we begin a major project, as she will clearly guide us.

The daughter of a governor, Catherine lived in a sumptuous palace among beautiful objects and scientific wonders. It is said she told her mother that she refused to marry anyone who was not as brilliant or beautiful as herself. Her mother readily agreed, not realizing that Catherine had discovered Christianity in her philosophical studies and had vowed herself to Christ. While working in her palace she heard the screams of a group of Christians who were being tortured . for refusing to give up their faith. Catherine went straight to the Emperor Maxentius and demanded he stop this persecution. Charmed by Catherine’s beauty, he invited her to debate the leading philosophers in the region to see if she could be persuaded to abandon Christianity by reasonable arguments. Instead of these fifty great scholars winning over the young girl with their scholarly knowledge, Catherine converted them to Christianity. Enraged, the Emperor had all fifty of these great men burned in the public square.

The Emperor then tried to charm Catherine with promises of great riches if she would become his concubine. Reminding him of her promise to Christ, she refused and was instantly imprisoned. While Maxentius was away on a trip, his wife visited Catherine in prison aand Catherine converted her to Christianity along with her prison guards and the Captain of the Emperor’s Legion. Upon his return to Alexandria, Maxentius was outraged at what he regarded to be the betrayal of his wife and legion. He ordered Catherine to be killed by being rolled on a spiked wheel. Catherine was fastened to the giant wheel and just as it was about to be rolled, her straps broke and she was released as the wheel shattered into hundreds of pieces killing many in the crowd. Catherine was then beheaded by sword. According to legend, angels then transported her body to the top of Mount Sinai, where a monastery and church devoted to Saint Catherine still exists.

St. Catherine is always depicted with a wheel and she is the patron of any occupation that requires a wheel. During the Middle Ages St. Cahterine was viewed as an exemplary example for unmarried women. Therefore, in France and England St. Catherines’s Day is celebrated by unmarried women asking for husbands.

Novena prayer

Almighty and eternal God! With lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of Saint Catherine of Alexandria in whose honor I make this novena, and following her example imitate, like her, the life of Thy divine Son. Moreover, I beseech Thee to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful Helper, the petition which through him I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saying, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

(Mention your request here.)

Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul.
nt Catherine of Alexandria, pray for us!

Amen.

Feast of Our Lady of Pompeii

IMG_2063The feast day for Our Lady of Pompeii is the day for
Our Lady of the Rosary, October 7.

Bartolo Longo wrote about his great disappointment upon being given the miraculous painting of Our Lady of the Rosary:

Not only was it worm-eaten, but the face of the Madonna was that of a course, rough, country-woman . . . a piece of canvas was missing just above her head . . . her mantle was cracked. Nothing need be said of the hideousness of the other figures. St. Dominic looked like a street idiot. To Our Lady’s left was a Saint Rose. This I had changed later into a Saint Catherine of Siena. . . .
I hesitated whether to refuse the gift or to accept. . . . I took it. 

Bought in a junk shop for less than a dollar, the painting was kept in a
convent. Its reluctant recipient had promised to bring a painting to a prayer meeting he was sponsoring in the dilapidated town of Valle di Pompei. It was so artistically inferior that he accepted it only so as not to insult the mother superior of the convent. She told him, “Take it with you, you will see that the Blessed Mother will use this painting to work many miracles.” Little did he realize the extent of transformation it would bring to the town, its residents, and the world.

Bartolo Longo was born in 1841, the child of a well-to-do family. As a law student at the University of Naples, he was swept up in the wave of anticlericalism then popular among the intelligentsia. He eventually befriended a group of Spiritualists and began attending seances. This led to his being inducted into a satanic cult where he publicly mocked and derided all aspects of the Catholic faith. The frequent fasts and gruesome rituals demanded of him as a priest of Satan weakened his physical and mental health, eventually leading to a nervous breakdown. A law professor noticed Longo’s frail physical and emotional state and aided him in his release from the grip of the occult. As his health returned, Longo was introduced to a Dominican priest trained in philosophy and theology. Eventually he was rebaptized as a Catholic, taking the middle name Maria after the Virgin Mary. The history of the Dominican order is based on Saint Dominic’s propagation of the rosary. Longo felt the repetitive rhythm of the Hail Mary in the rosary had a calming effect on his spirit and gave him a sense of well-being. He became a Dominican tertiary devoted to teaching the rosary. As a penance for his former life he chose to work in the poor and destitute town of Valle di Pompei. 

Located within minutes of the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii, the little town was founded by Christians three hundred years after the destruction of the ancient city by the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in a.d. 79. In the eleventh century the Benedictine order was entrusted with caring for the large and thriving church that stood within the town. A malaria epidemic all but wiped out the entire population in 1659. The large church was razed and replaced by a smaller one. The land was ceded to a Neapolitan nobleman and left in neglect. Over the years, the remaining residents were considered “superstitious and criminal, many being thieves.” When Bartolo Longo arrived to work among the people there in 1872, there was no school and no government representative, and the little church had deteriorated and was infested with rats and lizards. He went door to door to preach the importance of the rosary to
little effect. His discouragement turned to suicidal despair as he thought of his past. He wrote:

“I thought that perhaps as the priesthood of Christ is for eternity, so also the priesthood of Satan is for eternity. So, despite my repentance, I thought that I was still consecrated to Satan, and that I am still his slave and property as he awaits me in Hell. As I pondered over my condition, I experienced a deep sense of despair and almost committed suicide. Then I heard an echo in my ear of the voice of Friar Alberto repeating the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary: ‘One who propagates my Rosary shall be saved.’”

He vowed to continue his mission regardless of its apparent failure. He began prayer meetings in the church, which at first were attended only by a few
children. His restoration of the little church brought in more people, and he invited the Redemptorist Fathers to hold a two-week mission. He had
promised to display a painting of the Virgin Mary for the last evening. The only artwork available to him was the poorly executed work of art that he received from the nuns. On November 13, 1875, The Queen of the Rosary arrived in Pompeii wrapped in a sheet on top of a manure pile that was being delivered to a nearby field. The public display of the painting effected immediate changes in the little town. Three hundred families promised a penny a month in order to build a better church to house it. As soon as the cornerstone was laid for the new basilica in May 1876, miraculous healings began taking place at the shrine. In 1880 the painting was restored by the famous Neapolitan painter Federico Maldarelli (1826–1893). The basilica was completed in 1881. The community working and praying together changed the town from a depressed, dangerous, and dirty place to a thriving city. Bartolo Longo went on to found many hospices, orphanages, and devotional societies centered on the healing powers of the rosary. There are churches named after Our Lady of Pompeii all over the world. 

This painting, currently on display at the Basilica of Our Lady of Pompeii attracts thousands of pilgrims a day. The image itself depicts Mary as Queen of Heaven. She sits on a throne inside a church with the Christ Child on her lap. She, in turn, becomes the physical throne for Him. The Infant Jesus is handing the rosary to Saint Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order. Mary is handing a rosary to Saint Catherine of Siena, a Dominican tertiary who is also the patron saint of Italy. Both Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine were mystics who had visions of Mary. The Dominican Order propagates the rosary in the belief it puts one in a higher state of mind and opens one up to grace.

At Pompeii the Virgin Mary worked through the unlikely instruments of a former satanist and a discarded painting. The transformation of the neglected town of Pompeii and its people have inspired all who visit the basilica or read its story.