Archive for the ‘Grace’ Category

Saint Joan of Arc

May 30, 2017

joan

Feast Day: May 30

Patron of: France, Orleans, Rouen, captives, opposition of Church authorities, radio workers, rape victims, shepherds, wireless telegraph workers, women in the military

Invoked for: strength in the face of opposition

Invoked against: fires in woodpiles

Symbols: armor, standard, sword

Saint Joan of Arc (or Jeanne d’Arc ) is both a secular heroine and a Roman Catholic saint. Known as La Pucelle, or “The Maid” to her countrymen, she is credited with being the galvanizing force that returned French rule to France.

Joan of Arc was from a comfortable peasant family of five children. Already known in the village as a pious child, the adolescent Joan was at work in a garden when she heard a disembodied voice in a blaze of light. The voice gave her a simple task: Pray often and attend church. After a time this voice revealed itself to be Michael the Archangel. The angel told her that she would soon be visited by Saint Margaret of Antioch and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, two ancient martyrs whose statues were ensconced in her village church. In her later testimony, Joan said the martyr’s voices began visiting her frequently, and she was eventually allowed to gaze upon them as well. Fearing disapproval from her father, Joan never told anyone about these visits. She also vowed to retain her virginity for as long as God wanted it.

After two years the three saints revealed Joan’s true task: She was to save her country by first taking Charles, the exiled heir to the throne, into Rheims to be crowned king, and then by driving the English out of France completely. She had no idea how an ignorant peasant girl was to accomplish this. But by the time she was sixteen, the voices grew more insistent and ordered Joan to travel to the next town to see the commander of Charles’s forces, Robert de Baudricourt, and tell him that she was appointed to lead the future king to his coronation.

Chaperoned by an uncle, she did as the voices instructed. The commander laughed and said, “Your father should give you a good whipping.” He also ignored Joan’s prediction that Orleans, the last remaining city in French hands on the Loire, would fall to the English if he did not listen to her. She returned home in defeat, the voices hounding her to complete her mission. She told them, “I am a mere girl who knows not even how to ride a horse.” They answered, “It is God who commands it.” She secretly returned to Baudricourt, who was unnerved by the fulfillment of her prediction. Orleans was ready to fall. Desperate for any help at all, and troubled by the girl’s otherworldly confidence, he recommended that the future king, known as the Dauphin, grant her an audience. Because the eleven-day journey to Chinon was through enemy territory, Joan was disguised in man’s clothing.

Tales of Joan’s seemingly supernatural abilities preceded her. As a test, Charles dressed a member of his entourage in royal robes while he stood among the throng of his courtiers. All were stunned when the girl walked in and immediately advanced toward the real Charles, saying, “Most illustrious Lord Dauphin, I have come and am sent in the name of God to bring aid to yourself and to the kingdom.” Privately, she related to him a secret prayer he had made the previous All Saints’ Day asking God to restore his kingdom if he was the true heir to the throne, and if not, to punish only him for his impudence and let his supporters live in peace. Unnerved, but not ready to accept this proof of her calling, Charles arranged for Joan to be interviewed by a group of theologians in Poitiers. They questioned her for three weeks before they granted their enthusiastic approval, amazed at how such an uneducated person could hold her own against learned scholars. They recommended that Charles recognize the girl’s divine gift and grant her
titular command of the army.

A small suit of armor was made for Joan, and she designed a banner for herself with the words Jesus Maria. Her voices told her to carry an ancient sword that would be found buried in the altar of the church of Saint Catherine-de-Fierbois. When it was easily found, Joan’s reputation as a messenger from God began to spread in the general population. Allegedly this sword was used by Charles Martel in the seventh century in his defense of France against the invading Saracens. Men enlisted who would normally not be inclined to join the army. Joan insisted that all soldiers go to confession and receive communion. She banished the prostitutes who routinely followed troops. There are many written accounts of men who served with Joan of Arc who declared that despite her physical beauty, they never “had the will to sin while in her company.”      

After unsuccessfully calling on the English to leave French soil, the military campaign to lift the siege of Orleans began on April 30. Charles’s commanders considered Joan a mere mascot and thus refused to take her strategic advice. After four days of witnessing their floundering efforts, Joan charged into
battle waving her banner. The vision of this fearless young girl on a mission from God turned the tide of the battle for the French army. By May 8 the English were forced to retreat and the siege of Orleans was lifted. Just as her voices had predicted, Joan endured a wound during the fighting. They also warned that she had very little time and had much to accomplish within the next year.

At her insistence, all English positions were cleared on the way to Reims. During these battles through one town and another, Joan took the lead, inspiring many common citizens to follow the troops. The English were routed completely, suffering a loss of 2,200 men, while the French army lost only three. With Joan organizing troop and artillery placement, the French army easily accomplished a feat that had seemed impossible to them–they drove the English out of Reims so that Charles VII could be crowned there, as all French kings had been before him. Joan held her banner as she stood next to Charles during his coronation on July 16, 1429.  Part of her mission was complete.

Though she was in a great hurry to accomplish the rest, Charles VII became cautious and followed his adviser’s recommendation to marginalize the seer. Against Joan’s wishes, he signed a truce with the Burgundians, which gave the British time to regroup. He refused to support his army in an assault on Paris, a fight in which Joan was wounded and forcibly removed from the battlefield. By the spring of 1430, Joan’s voices told her that she would be captured before the Feast of John the Baptist. This occurred in Burgundy on May 24. At that time, it was common practice to ransom off important captives. Charles VII could have offered to pay her ransom but instead ignored her plight. The inner circle of his court was discomfited by Joan’s strangeness. They convinced Charles that she had fallen out of favor with God. She was sold to the English, who imprisoned her in Rouen.

Since there were no rational explanations for her overwhelming successes, the English vowed revenge on Joan, considering her a witch with satanic powers. In order to destroy her reputation as a religious visionary sent by God, they wanted Joan tried in an Ecclesiastical court for witchcraft and heresy. Once this was proven, they could then charge that Charles VII was made king by diabolical means and reassert their claims on the French throne. Pierre Cauchon, the bishop of Beauvais, willingly adopted this plot in order to realize his own political ambitions.

Joan was illegally held in a secular prison guarded by men who repeatedly threatened her with rape. Since it was believed that a true witch was the lover of the devil, when her virginity was proven, she could not be charged with witchcraft. She was interrogated from February 21 to March 17, 1431, by a relentless panel of forty-seven judges, a majority of whom came from the pro-English University of Paris. After an attempted escape, Joan was imprisoned in a cage, chained by the neck, hands, and feet, and she was forbidden to partake of any of the sacraments. Despite their avid attempts to browbeat her and put words in her mouth, she calmly deflected the panel. These trial transcripts exist today, and are a remarkable testament to the brilliance of her simple answers. Many times, she instructed the judges to look up testimony she had previously given–exact to the day and hour. On March 1 she further infuriated the court by stating that “Within seven years’ space the English would have to forfeit a bigger prize than Orleans.” (Within six years and eight months the English would abandon French soil entirely.)

By May, the judges had written up their verdict: Forty-two of them agreeing that if Joan did not retract her statements, she would be handed over to the civil powers to be burned at the stake. Filled with fear, Joan signed a two-line retraction. A document detailing her acts as works of the devil was substituted in the official record. Because she had done as the judges ordered, they could not execute her and the British were furious. It is not known if Joan was so afraid of the threat of rape by her guards or if the dress she had been wearing during her trial was taken away and her male costume the only thing left to her, but when she appeared before the court on May 29 dressed as a man, she was declared a relapsed heretic. Her masculine attire served as proof of her crime, and she was burned at the stake in the town square the next day. On the morning of her execution she was visited by the judges. She solemnly warned Cauchon that he would be charged by God for the responsibility of her death. She insisted her voices came from God and had not deceived her. Her last word, as she was consumed by flames was “Jesus.” In order to discourage the collection of relics, her ashes were thrown into the Seine.

A reversal of her sentence was granted by the pope in 1456, twenty-five years after her death, citing of the unfairness of her judges and the fact that the court illegally denied her right to appeal to the Holy See. Joan of Arc remains one of the most illustrious historical figures in the world. Poets, painters, writers, and filmmakers have ensured her role in popular culture. While the image of her as a beautiful girl warrior is a romantic one, in fact she is the only person in written history, male or female, to command a nation’s army at the age of seventeen. Mocked as a pious lunatic by many intellectuals during the Enlightenment, her reputation as a French patriot was resuscitated when she became powerful propaganda figure during both world wars. She was finally declared a saint in 1920.

In art, Joan of Arc wears her suit of armor and carries her “Jesus Mary” banner. Because of her voices, she is the patron of radio and telegraph workers. She is patron of women in the military and shepherds because these were her occupations. She dressed in men’s clothing to avoid the threat of rape so she is the patron of rape victims. Most important, she is the patron of the nation she saved, France.

Novena to Saint Joan of Arc

Glorious Saint Joan of Arc, filled with compassion for those who
invoke you, with love for those who suffer,
heavily laden with the weight of my troubles,
I kneel at your feet and humbly beg you to take my present need
under your special protection [state intention here].
Vouchsafe to recommend it to the Blessed Virgin Mary,
and lay it before the throne of Jesus.
Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted.
Above all, obtain for me the grace to one day meet God face to face
and with you and Mary and all the angels and saints praise Him
through all eternity.

O most powerful Saint Joan, do not let me lose my soul,
but obtain for me the grace of winning my way to heaven,
forever and ever.

Amen.

excerpted from the book, “Saints:Ancient and Modern”

Novena App October, Situations: peace filled atmosphere, Saint Therese of Lisieux

September 30, 2016

(also known as Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face)

1873-1897

Doctor of the Church

Patron of: France, Russia, Vietnam, AIDS patients, Children, Florists, Foreign Missions, Love, Pilots, Tuberculosis Patients

Invoked for: a peaceful atmosphere

Attributes: Crucifix, Showering Roses

 

Love, roses and children are keywords for Saint Therese of Lisieux.  A young Carmelite novice, Therese lived a cloistered existence in a convent only miles away from where she was raised. She died in obscurity at the age of 24, never realizing her dream of working in the foreign missions, yet she is considered to be one of the greatest saints of modern times.

Therese Martin was the youngest of five daughters born to a very religious couple. At the age of four she lost her mother to breast cancer and the family moved from Normandy, France to the city of Lisieux to be among other relatives. Therese was spoiled by her older sisters and when the eldest joined the convent, she vowed to not only follow her, but to become a saint. She was admitted to the Carmelite cloister at the unusually young age of fifteen. Her sentimental fantasy of convent life was replaced by the reality of menial chores and constant prayer.  She came face-to-face with her own doubts and weaknesses when she became ill with tuberculosis and her dream of doing missionary work in Hanoi was shattered  Along with her diminished health, Therese had to accept the fact that she would never have the opportunity to travel the world and do great things. Feeling small and ineffectual, Therese went through a period of spiritual dryness where she doubted that her prayers were even heard.

By embracing her powerlessness, she was able to transform her life and develop her “Little Way”. A personal philosophy devoted to performing small, loving acts scattered throughout her day like so many flowers. Gradually, Therese realized that there were no actions that could be considered insignificant, no matter how small. If they were performed with love, they would have great force.

In 1896, while she was bedridden, Therese was ordered to write her autobiography. This self examination is part of the Carmelite spiritual regime. After her death, the book  called “The Story of A Soul” was published in a small printing. It soon became spectacularly successful, as ordinary men and women were able to easily identify with its author’s struggle to accept living a hidden, mundane life. It has been translated in at least 50 languages and Saint Therese has a very active and enthusiastic following all over the world.

The international influence of her book realized Therese’s dream to be a foreign missionary. Her Little Way is greatly influenced by the simplicity of children, so the concerns of children are one of her patronages. On her deathbed she vowed  that “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. After my death I will let fall a shower of roses.”

A sign that your novena to Saint Therese is being answered is the sight and smell of roses.

 

Novena to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus

O little Therese of the Child Jesus, Please pick for me a rose from the heavenly gardens and send it to me as a message of love. O little flower of Jesus, ask God today to grant favors I now place with confidence in your hands. (Mention your request here). Saint Therese, help me to always believe as you did, in God’s great love for me, So that I might imitate your “Little Way” each day.

Amen

Excerpted from the Novena App

 

Saint Monica: August Novena App: Situations – Parents of disappointing children

August 17, 2016

331 – 387

Feast Day: August 28

 

Patron of: Parents of Wayward Children

Quote: “Nothing is far from God.”

 

Keywords: abuse victims, adultery victims, alcoholics, housewives, married women, mothers, patience, wayward children

Symbols: tears, girdle

 

Though she was greatly hurt and disappointed by her firstborn son, St. Monica never gave up the idea that he would change his way of living. After 17 years of what seemed like fruitless prayers, her son turned his life around, converted to her faith and became one of the world’s greatest philosophers and Catholic saints, St. Augustine of Hippo. We invoke St. Monica to help us when our own children disappoint us. She serves as a reminder that there are no lost causes in this world and that absolutely anyone can reform and change their life.

 

Born into a Berber tribe in North Africa, Monica was brought up a Christian. Her parents arranged her in marriage with a prominent pagan Roman citizen of Carthage by the name of Patricius. Monica had a hard time in her early married years as she had to put up with a cantankerous mother-in-law as well as a dissolute husband. There are some accounts which say that she turned to alcohol and was herself an alcoholic who recovered her sobriety through faith and prayer. She had three children who she raised as Christians. The eldest, Augustine, was the most brilliant and his parents had high hopes for his career. Both Patricius and Monica worked hard to get the best education for their son and it was the greatest sorrow of Monica’s life when Augustine turned out to live a lazy, pleasure-filled life. It hurt her even more when he threw out his Christian beliefs to embrace the Manichean heresy – a popular cult believing in the natural good and evil of every soul. In order to keep his blasphemous beliefs from misleading her younger children, Monica forbade Augustine to come back to their home. Inconsolable in her grief, Monica had a vision of a radiant being pointing to Augustine in a beam of light next to her, saying, “Your son is with you.”  When she related this vision to Augustine he laughingly said it would all be true if she would only give up her religious piety. “He did not say that I was with you,” she answered him. “He said you were with me.”

 

When Augustine openly took a mistress and further humiliated his mother by having an illegitimate son, Monica turned to her Bishop for help. He advised her to pray and be patient saying, “It is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.”  After the death of his father, Augustine decided to move to Rome to increase his worldly success, Monica vowed to follow him. In his own great treatise “Confessions”, Augustine relates how as his mother spent the night in prayer before their voyage, he tricked her and slipped away on an earlier ship. Devastated, she traveled to Rome anyway. By the time she arrived Augustine, had already left that city for Milan. By the time Monica tracked him down, she was overjoyed to find that Augustine was no longer a Manichean. He had met Ambrose, the bishop of Milan and was studying with him. Eventually, after several more years, Monica lived to see Augustine baptized a Christian. While waiting for a ship at Ostia to take mother and son back to Africa, Monica told her son that she had accomplished everything that she had set out to do in this life and did not need to live any longer. She died in Ostia, never returning to her native land.

 

It is interesting to note that there are many great saints from Africa, especially the earliest ones and they are rarely depicted as anything but European in visage.

 

Novena Prayer to Saint Monica

 Dear Saint Monica, once the sorrowing mother of a wayward son, be pleased to present our petition to the Lord God of heaven and earth. (Your intention here.) Look down upon our anxieties and needs, and intercede for us, as you did so fervently for Augustine, your firstborn.

 We have full confidence that your prayers will gain favorable hearing in heaven. Mother of a sinner-turned saint; obtain for us patience, perseverance, and total trust in God’s perfect timing. In His appointed hour, in His merciful way, may He respond to your prayer and ours, which we offer through you. Amen

Find this saint and 35 others on the Novena App

Novena App: Saint Francis Xavier, Patron Saint of Missionaries

November 30, 2015
 

1506 – 1552

Feast Day: December 3

Keywords: foreign missions, grace, hurricanes, missionaries, plague, sailors, tourists

 

Quote: “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.”

Symbols: crucifix, lily, flaming heart, torch

 

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 travelling 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.

 

 

Miraculous Novena of Grace to St. Francis Xavier


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.

 

Download the Novena App

 

Excerpt from Novena: The Power of Prayer—Novena to The Infant of Prague

June 5, 2015

Infant
The Feast of the Infant of Prague is the same day as The Holy Name of Jesus, January 14.

Appeal to the Infant of Prague in times of desperation, to stop an epidemic or for abundance

Few novenas promise the instantaneous results of those to the Infant of Prague. It necessitates a suspension of all doubt as it is completed in one day over a nine—hour time span. Perhaps the most invoked aspect of Christ in the world, this novena promises that anything is possible for those who believe. Christ is presented as both a kindly child and a king. The Infant of Prague is a statue of the child Jesus dressed in actual clothing. Instead of the modest garments of a poor child, he is wearing the sumptuous gown of royalty. Because the Infant of Prague looks like a little doll, we are welcome to approach him with the open faith of a child. Reflecting the faith of Jesus, the novena requires an intensity of devotion.

Many people have a version of this statue in their homes, as it is said to guarantee abundance. This novena, frequently utilized by those in financial difficulties, can be said during any desperate situation. The Divine Child, a nineteen—inch wax sculpture, was brought to Prague, Czechoslovakia, by a Spanish princess who received it from her mother as a wedding gift. She in turn, bequeathed it to her daughter, Princess Polyxena. On becoming a widow in 1623, Polyxena decided to devote the rest of her life to doing charitable works. The extremely poor order of Carmelite monks of Prague were her favorite beneficiaries. Bringing the statue, she promised, “As long as you will venerate this image, you will not lack anything.” The statue of the Divine Child was installed in the chapel, and the monks became aware of an immediate change in their material and spiritual fortunes. In 1631 the monks had to flee their monastery because of an invasion by Sweden. In the ensuing confusion the statue was left behind, only to be thrown on a trash heap by the invading army. Miraculously, it was found seven years later by a priest named Father Cyril, who had been particularly devoted to the Divine Infant. Though it was made of wax, the only damage sustained by the statue was its missing hands.

Devotions to the Divine Infant, returned to its altar in the chapel as the once again poverty—stricken Carmelites began to rebuild their monastery, were revived with great fervor. While Father Cyril was praying before the statue, he heard the words: “Have pity on me and I will have pity on you. Give me my hands and I will give you peace.” Though money came to the order, it was felt that it should be put to use for more important causes than the repair of a statue. Again Father Cyril heard a voice while in prayer: “Place me near the entrance of the sacristy and you will receive aid.” A passing stranger, seeing the broken statue, offered to have it repaired. When the Divine Infant seemed to be responsible for several cures during an epidemic, the priests moved the statue to the main church so that the public could also benefit from its graces. In 1642 Baroness Benigna von Lopkowitz had a beautiful chapel built for the Divine Infant, where it remains to this day. Many make pilgrimages to Prague to see the original little statue that has inspired so many copies around the world.

Powerful Novena in Times of Distress to the Infant of Prague

Divine Infant of Prague, dearest Jesus, you who so lovingly said, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you,” have mercy on me now, and through the intercession of our most holy Mother, I humbly ask you to grant me the grace I need. Mention your request Divine Infant of Prague, dearest Jesus, you who so compassionately taught, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes,” have pity on me now. I do believe; help me. Increase my weak faith through the Blessed Mother’s intercession.

I humbly ask you to answer my request. Mention your request Divine Infant of Prague, dearest Jesus, you who once said to the Apostles: “If you have faith like a mustard seed, you will say to the mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Hear my prayer, I humbly ask.

Through the intercession of Mary most holy, I feel certain that my prayer will be answered. Mention your request.

Because this novena is said for those in great distress or emergency situations, it is completed in one day.

Say this novena nine times in a row at the same time every hour for nine consecutive hours.

Saint Catherine of Siena

April 15, 2015

st.catherine of sienna

1347 – 1380
Patron saint of: Fire Protection, Italy, Nursing Services, Activism
Feast Day is April 29.

Action and activism are the essence of Saint Catherine of Siena. Passionately devoted to the salvation of mankind, she left an astounding legacy of four hundred written letters and a devotional Dialogue that are considered great classics in literature. She is credited with influencing the return of the papacy to Rome from Avignon, and for this reason she is the patroness of Italy. Known for her incredible charm, she horrified her wealthy parents by her willingness to express her devotion to Christ through corporal humiliations and long periods of fasting. Counselor and advisor to those in power, it was said that she perfected the art of kissing the Pope’s feet while simultaneously twisting his arm. Saint Catherine struggled against great odds to keep the Catholic Church united. Her novena is a call to faith in troubled times. She is invoked to engender the strength and faith for action in times when action is needed, both political and spiritual.
Born Caterina Benincasa, the youngest of twenty-five children, Saint Catherine’s father was a wealthy dyer. At the age of six she had a mystical vision of Christ surrounded by saints. A beautiful and cheerful child, she alarmed her parents by spending much of her time in prayer and meditation. She grew devoted to Christ and, like him, wanted to take on the suffering of the entire world, secretly mortifying her flesh and fasting for days. Saint Catherine is the patroness of fire protection because her sister saw her deep in prayer in the kitchen, engulfed in flames from the stove. When she was pulled out, there was no evidence of burn marks on her body. Her parents, wanting a normal daughter, were angry at her refusal to marry or to improve her personal appearance. They finally gave in to her religious cravings and allowed her to become a tertiary (lay person) in the Order of Saint Dominic. She lived at home and went out to work, caring for those with the most repulsive diseases when no one else would help them. For this reason, Saint Catherine is also known as the patron saint of nursing services. Because of her great spiritual insight and radiantly happy outlook, she attracted a following in Siena known as the Caterinati. They did much to revitalize an interest in spirituality in Siena and its surrounding regions. On the Fourth Sunday of Lent in 1375, Saint Catherine received the stigmata; the wounds of Christ appeared on her body and then disappeared, visible only to her.
Illiterate, Saint Catherine dictated hundreds of letters and spiritual writings to her secretaries. It was her constant barrage of letters to Pope Gregory XI that influenced him to move the papacy back from Avignon to Rome. She later became the advisor to his successor, the arrogant and difficult Urban VI. When he caused a great schism in the church, the College of Cardinals having voted in a rival Pope to return to Avignon, Saint Catherine remained loyal to Urban. She lectured him in countless letters on how to best improve himself. At his invitation, she moved to Rome to work as a papal adviser. When she died there of a stroke at the age of thirty-three, the wounds of the stigmata reappeared on her body.

Novena to Saint Catherine of Siena
Heavenly Father, your glory is in your saints. We praise your glory in the life of the admirable Saint Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor of the church. Her whole life was a noble sacrifice inspired by an ardent love of Jesus, your unblemished lamb. In troubled times she strenuously upheld the rights of his beloved spouse, the church. Father, honor her merits and hear her prayers for each of us. Help us to pass unscathed through the corruption of this world. Help us always to see in the Vicar of Christ an anchor in the storms of life and a beacon of light to the harbor of your love, in this dark night of your times and men’s souls. Grant also to each of us our special petition. We ask this through Jesus, your Son, in the bond of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(Pause to pray for your intentions).
Saint Catherine of Siena, pray for us.
Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.

Mother of Sorrows

September 10, 2014

Sorrows_Small_Image

Mother of Sorrows
Patron of: Grief

When we are overwhelmed with grief, we turn to Mary, Mother of Jesus for help in our suffering. Throughout her life she endured much pain and sorrow and is fully able to empathize with anyone’s personal anguish. She endured the shame of being pregnant and unmarried, being poor, homelessness and having her only son unjustly imprisoned and executed. Most astonishing, Mary knew what was to befall her son yet had to see these events from God’s point of view and have faith that this was all for the good of mankind.

By meditating on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, a devotion from the Middle Ages, which uses scenes from the life of the Virgin Mother as a meditation on accepting the sorrowful part of life with grace.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary are:

1) The Prophecy of Simeon. As a young child, when his parents presented him in the temple, Jesus was met by the holy man Simeon who predicted everything that would happen to him in his address to Mary: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted – and you yourself a sword will pierce so that thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35).

2) The Flight into Egypt. In Bethlehem, after the birth of Christ, Joseph had a vision of an angel warning him of the impending slaughter of any male child under the age of two by King Herod in order to prevent the coming Messiah. The Holy Family had to travel a secretive route to Egypt and remain in that country until Herod died. Mary not only worried for the welfare of her own son but mourn for the murdered children left behind.

3) The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple. While on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the 12 year old Jesus vanished from his family. His heartsick parents finally found him three days later, arguing with elders in the temple.

4) The Meeting of Jesus with His Cross. Mary watched helplessly as her son was ridiculed and mocked as he stumbled, carrying the cross he was to be executed on.

5) The Crucifixion. As he was nailed to the cross, most of his disciples ran away. Mary never wavered as she stood at the foot of the cross, witnessing her son’s agony and death.

6) Jesus Taken Down from the Cross. Mary held her dead son’s wound covered body. This, her greatest sorrow is known as the “Pieta”.

7) The Burial of Jesus. As the stone was rolled, closing up his tomb, Mary had to say her final goodbye to her earthly son. Her faith had to be sincerely tested as there was no hint of the resurrection to come.
Prayer

Most holy and afflicted Virgin, Queen of Martyrs, you stood beneath the cross, witnessing the agony of your dying son. Look with a mother’s tenderness and pity on me, who kneel before you. I venerate your sorrows and I place my requests with filial confidence in the sanctuary of your wounded heart. Present them, I beseech you, on my behalf to Jesus Christ, through the merits of his own most sacred passion and death, together with your sufferings at the foot of the cross. Through the united efficacy of both, obtain the granting of my petition. To whom shall I have recourse in my wants and miseries if not to you, Mother of Mercy? You have drunk so deeply of the chalice of your son, you can compassionate our sorrows. Holy Mary, your soul was pierced by a sword of sorrow at the sight of the passion of your divine son. Intercede for me and obtain from Jesus (mention your request) if it be for his honor and glory and for my good. Amen.

Feast of St. Monica, August 28

August 27, 2014

St.Monica copy
St. Monica 331-387
Patron of: Wayward Children, Abuse Victims, Adultery Victims, Alcoholics, Housewives, Married Women, Mothers, Patience.

Though she was greatly hurt and disappointed by her firstborn son, St. Monica never gave up the idea that he would change his way of living. After 17 years of what seemed like fruitless prayers, her son turned his life around, converted to her faith and became one of the world’s greatest philosophers and Catholic saints, St. Augustine of Hippo. We invoke St. Monica to help us when our own children disappoint us. She serves as a reminder that there are no lost causes in this world and that absolutely anyone can reform and change their life.

Born into a Berber tribe in North Africa, Monica was brought up a Christian. Her parents arranged her in marriage with a prominent pagan Roman citizen of Carthage by the name of Patricius. Monica had a hard time in her early married years as she had to put up with a cantankerous mother-in-law as well as a dissolute husband. There are some accounts which say that she turned to alcohol and was herself an alcoholic who recovered her sobriety through faith and prayer. She had three children who she raised as Christians. The eldest, Augustine, was the most brilliant and his parents had high hopes for his career. Both Patricius and Monica worked hard to get the best education for their son and it was the greatest sorrow of Monica’s life when Augustine turned out to live a lazy, pleasure-filled life. It hurt her even more when he threw out his Christian beliefs to embrace the Manichean heresy – a popular cult believing in the natural good and evil of every soul. In order to keep his blasphemous beliefs from misleading her younger children, Monica forbade Augustine to come back to their home. Inconsolable in her grief, Monica had a vision of a radiant being pointing to Augustine in a beam of light next to her, saying, “Your son is with you.” When she related this vision to Augustine he laughingly said it would all be true if she would only give up her religious piety. “He did not say that I was with you,” she answered him. “He said you were with me.”

When Augustine openly took a mistress and further humiliated his mother by having an illegitimate son, Monica turned to her Bishop for help. He advised her to pray and be patient saying, “It is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.” After the death of his father, Augustine decided to move to Rome to increase his worldly success, Monica vowed to follow him. In his own great treatise “Confessions”, Augustine relates how as his mother spent the night in prayer before their voyage, he tricked her and slipped away on an earlier ship. Devastated, she traveled to Rome anyway. By the time she arrived Augustine, had already left that city for Milan. By the time Monica tracked him down, she was overjoyed to find that Augustine was no longer a Manichean. He had met Ambrose, the bishop of Milan and was studying with him. Eventually, after several more years, Monica lived to see Augustine baptized a Christian. While waiting for a ship at Ostia to take mother and son back to Africa, Monica told her son that she had accomplished everything that she had set out to do in this life and did not need to live any longer. She died in Ostia, never returning to her native land. It is interesting to note that there are many great saints from Africa, especially the earliest ones and they are rarely depicted as anything but European in visage.

Novena

Dear Saint Monica, once the sorrowing mother of a wayward son, be pleased to present our petition to the Lord God of heaven and earth. (Your intention here.) Look down upon our anxieties and needs, and intercede for us, as you did so fervently for Augustine, your firstborn.

We have full confidence that your prayers will gain favorable hearing in heaven. Mother of a sinner-turned saint; obtain for us patience, perseverance, and total trust in God’s perfect timing. In His appointed hour, in His merciful way, may He respond to your prayer and ours, which we offer through you.

Amen

February Saint of Health: Breast Cancer

January 29, 2014

St.Agatha

Saint Agatha 

D. 251

Feast Day: February 5

Patron of: Breast Cancer

Quote: “Do not offend Agatha’s nation, because she will avenge all insults”. – Inscription on the façade of the Cathedral of St. Agatha in Catania, Sicily

Keywords; breast cancer, burns, pulmonary diseases, bell ringers, bell makers, brass workers, cloth makers, glass workers, wet nurses, nursing mothers, nurses, fires, volcanic eruptions

Symbols: breasts on a dish, palms

A national heroine to Sicilians, a great figure in art and one of the few saints mentioned in the Catholic mass, St. Agatha is a fierce and fearless role model for anyone who lives in modern times. A martyr, she is most often invoked by those suffering from diseases of the breast. Her tomb has been a place of miraculous healing since her death. Because of her courage in standing up to the Roman authorities, anyone persecuted by them, Pagans, Jews and Christians all made pilgrimages in her honor. In modern times, her feast day is an important holiday, attracting hundreds of thousands of devotees who process through the streets of Catania.

An orphaned daughter of wealthy Christians, Agatha was considered an attractive marriage prospect by  Quintianus, the ruling Roman consul of Sicily. Taking advantage of  the recent Roman decree outlawing Christianity, Quintianus assumed Agatha would renounce her religion and acquiesce to his proposal of marriage. She refused him on both counts, telling him that she had dedicated her virginity to Jesus Christ. Refusing to marry and bear children was considered an act of political defiance in those times. Agatha’s rejection of him so enraged Quintianus that he had Agatha taken to a brothel and forced her to live as a prostitute for thirty days. When she was brought back before him, he ordered her to sacrifice to the Roman gods. She pointed out that no Roman wife would dare live like Venus and no Roman husband could legally do the things that Jupiter was known for, why would she follow such gods? Christ lived what he preached, love and forgiveness; she would follow him instead. Agatha was then tortured by having her breasts slowly rushed and cut off. Thrown back in prison and left to die, an elderly man and a young boy came into her cell. Revealing himself as St. Peter, Agatha was miraculously healed. The next day, Quintianus ordered her to be rolled in broken pottery and hot coals. As this torture was being inflicted, an earthquake leveled Catania. The citizens of that city, declaring that this was God’s vengeance for what was happening to Agatha, chased Quintianus out of town and the terrified consul drowned in the river. Agatha offered her soul up to Christ and died.

The year after her death Mount Etna erupted and a lava flow threatened Catania. Agatha’s death shroud was taken out and held aloft which immediately stopped the lava. This same shroud has been used many times over the years to protect the city. Because of her tortures Agatha is the patron of those suffering from breast disease as well as those suffering from burns. Trades that use burning coals also claim her. Bells, which are signals for fire alarms and also resemble breasts are closely identified with this saint. Saint Agatha’s bread, shaped like breasts or bells are a specialty served around the time of her feast.

Explanation of symbols:

Mt. Etna in the background: Agatha protects Sicilians against its eruptions. She is the patron and protector of Sicily.

Offering breasts on a dish: Agatha suffered the gruesome torture of having her breasts cut off. Because of her faith, she easily endured this torture and offered it up to God.

Palms: a sign of martyrdom. Christ was showered in palms the Sunday before he was executed.

Novena to Saint Agatha

O Saint Agatha, who withstood the unwelcome advances from unwanted suitors, and suffered pain and torture for your devotion to our Lord, we celebrate your faith, dignity, and martyrdom.

Protect us against rape and other violations, guard us against breast cancer and other afflictions of women, and inspire us to overcome adversity.

O Saint Agatha, virgin and martyr, mercifully grant that we who venerate your sacrifice may receive your intercession.

(Mention your request).

Amen.

(Excerpted from the app: Novena:Praying With the Saints by Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua).

Saint Francis Xavier Miraculous Novena of Grace

November 25, 2013

Saint Francis Xavier

1506 – 1552

Patron of: Missionaries

Feast Day: December 3

Keywords: foreign missions, grace, hurricanes, missionaries, plague, sailors, tourists

Quote: “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.”

Symbols: crucifix, lily, flaming heart, torch

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 travelling 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.

 

Miraculous Novena of Grace to St. Francis Xavier


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.

(Excerptef from the App, Novena:Praying With the Saints”).


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