Archive for the ‘States of Life’ 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”

Saint Rita of Cascia: Impossible Causes, May 22

May 18, 2017

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1386-1457

Patron of: Impossible Causes

Quote: “…In patience and fortitude you are a model of all the states in life.”

Keywords: Impossible, Desperation, bad marriages, spousal abuse, widows, bodily ills, loneliness, smallpox, sterility

Symbols: roses, thorns, bees, wounded head

An abused wife, a mother who’s children died, a widow of a murdered husband, and finally, a nun, Saint Rita experienced many lives in her time on earth. Knowing the powerlessness and despair of those in bad marriages she is invoked for help in desperate times. In her own lifetime she was famous for the power of her prayers to change any situation and it was said that she could accomplish the impossible. Canonized almost 500 years after her birth, she is the first declared female saint of the 20th Century.

Margarita Lotti was born to an older farming couple in Roccaporena, Italy. She was called Rita because of a vision of an angel her mother had who named the baby while declaring, “You will give birth to a daughter marked with the seal of sanctity, gifted with every virtue, a helper to the helpless and an advocate of the afflicted.” As proof of this prophecy, bees, a sign of divine presence, always hovered over her crib as she slept, never harming or waking her.

Though she had always wanted to be a nun, Rita’s parents feared for her future security as there was a schism in the church and many religious orders were closing their doors. Instead, she had to accept a marriage they contracted for her with a man named Paolo Mancini. Though he was a good provider, he soon proved to be an abusive, promiscuous husband. Settling his personal disputes with violence, Mancini created a tense family environment for Rita and the two sons she had with him. Never wavering in her devotion to God, Rita prayed that her husband would change his ways. After 18 years of marriage, Paolo had a vision of himself as others saw him and begged for his wife’s forgiveness. A lifetime of enemies caught up with Paolo and he was murdered, his mutilated body dumped on his family’s doorstep. Rita begged her two teenaged sons not to pursue a vendetta against his killers, but they refused. She prayed to God to prevent her sons from murdering anyone. Both of them came down with serious illnesses and died before they could act on their vendetta.

Alone in the world, Rita petitioned to join the Augustinian convent. Because several of the nuns there had family members who were involved in Paolo’s murder, the convent refused her, not wanting tensions to carry over from the outside world. Rita prayed and entreated Paolo’s family to forgive his killers. Much to everyone’s surprise, they acquiesced and Rita was admitted to the convent on her third try. While there she spent her days nursing the older nuns and concentrating on Christ’s suffering. When she begged to feel what Christ felt on the cross, a thorn from the crown of thorns on a crucifix struck her on the head and became embedded there. It left a deep wound that never healed. Because this wound became infected and foul smelling Rita was shunned by the other nuns and remained in her cell praying and meditating. The January before she died, a cousin asked her if there was anything she needed and she asked for a rose from her childhood garden. The cousin was shocked to see that there was indeed two roses growing in that garden in the middle of January. Upon her death, her cell was filled with the smell of roses. Rita is always depicted with the thorn in her head, in her Augustinian habit, meditating on the crucified Christ.

Thorns: she took on the suffering of Christ
Wound in the head: Divine light, grace and spiritual power.
Roses: love. Also proof of Rita’s miraculous powers as her roses grew in the winter.

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Novena to Saint Rita

O holy protectress of those who art in greatest need, O you who shine as a star of hope in the midst of darkness, blessed Saint Rita, bright mirror of God’s grace, in patience and fortitude you are a model of all states in life. I unite my will with the will of God through the merits of my Savior, Jesus Christ, and in particular through his patient wearing of the crown of thorns, which with tender devotion you daily contemplated. Through the merits of the holy Virgin Mary and your own graces and virtues, I ask you to obtain my earnest petition, provided it be for the greater glory of God and my own sanctification. Guide and purify my intention, O holy protectress and advocate, so that I may obtain the pardon of all my sins and the grace to persevere daily, as you did in walking with courage, generosity, and fidelity down the path of life.
(Mention your request).
Saint Rita, advocate for the impossible, pray for us.

Saint Rita, advocate of the helpless, pray for us.

(Recite Our Father, Hail Mary and the Glory Be three times each).

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Read extensively about Saint Rita in ‘Saints: Ancient and Modern’

More on Saint Rita in ‘Novena: The Power of Prayer’

 

Novena App for March, States of Life: Saint Joseph, patron of Fathers

March 18, 2017

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Feast Day: March 19

Patron of: Fathers

Quote: “I know by experience that the glorious Saint Joseph assists us generally in all necessities. I never asked him for anything which he did not obtain for me.” Saint Teresa of Avila

Keywords: carpenters, catholic church, families, homeless, pregnant women, unborn children, workers, family protection, to find work, a happy death, to sell a home

Symbols: flowering staff, carpenter tools, the child Jesus, lily

A righteous man who never shirked his responsibilities as protector of his family, Saint Joseph offers a perfect example for fathers everywhere. He is invoked by families for all matters of support needed to sustain a household, both material and spiritual.

A descendant of the House of David, there is very little written about Joseph in the gospels. He was said to be betrothed to Mary when she became pregnant with Jesus. Instead of leaving her in scandal, he accepted the word of the angel Gabriel who told him that the child was divinely given and Joseph and Mary were chosen by God to be his earthly parents. It was Joseph who protected Mary on the journey to Bethlehem when Jesus was born. He also suffered the frustrations of a man who could not find proper shelter for his family as his wife was about to give birth. Upon returning to their native city of Nazareth, Joseph was once again visited by an angel warning him of the impending slaughter of the innocents. On faith alone, he dispensed with his business and personal effects, taking Jesus and Mary to Egypt where they stayed for seven years until Herod’s death. It fell upon Saint Joseph to support his young family in this foreign country.

The last mention of Joseph comes when Jesus is twelve years old and strayed from his family while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It is thought that he died well before Jesus began his mission with Jesus and Mary at his deathbed. For this reason, more than any other saint, he is invoked for a happy death, one where a person is older and has their family at their side.

Though of noble lineage, Joseph was a carpenter and it was from him whom Jesus learned his trade. Because he worked with his hands and frequently put his family ahead of any personal ambitions, workers everywhere who live similar lives call on him as a patron. It is no mystery that the cult of Saint Joseph became more popular in modern times with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Many saints throughout the ages have declared him to be a powerful advocate as well, since it is thought that Jesus obeyed him in his earthly life, he is inclined to listen to Joseph in his heavenly life. Teresa of Avila always buried medals with his image when she needed land for a new convent. This tradition has extended itself to realtors of all faiths who bury statues of Saint Joseph on properties they wish to sell.

It is assumed that since Joseph respected his wife’s virginity that he was an older man when he married. He is depicted in art with a staff, which he led his family (precursor to the bishop’s staff) a lily for purity, and with carpenter tools or holding the baby Jesus.

Explanation of symbols:
Child Jesus: Jesus learned carpentry from his earthly father, Joseph
Carpenter’s bench: Joseph was a carpenter
Lily: Joseph respected the purity of Mary

Novena to Saint Joseph

O glorious Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, to you we raise our hearts and hands to ask your powerful intercession in obtaining from the compassionate heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the spiritual grace for which we now ask.

(Mention your request.)

O guardian of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers for us will be graciously heard at the throne of God.

(The following is to be said seven times in honor of the seven joys and seven sorrows of Saint Joseph.)

O glorious Saint Joseph, through the love you bear for Jesus Christ, and for the glowy of his name, hear our prayers and grant our petitions.

January Novena App, Situations: Financial Distress The Infant of Prague

January 6, 2017

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Feast Day: January 14
Patron of: Financial Distress
Keywords: abundance, children, desperation, emergencies, epidemics, family life, financial distress, trust
Quote: “The more you honor me the more I shall bless you.”
Symbols: raised right hand, globe, crown

Surrendering oneself to this doll-like image of Christ as a child requires one to cast off the world of adult preoccupations to live in a state of faith and pure belief. Honoring the Infant of Prague is a tradition that is kept in many homes throughout the world as some believe that it guarantees financial stability and abundance. There are several novenas to the Infant of Prague, one reflecting the intensity of an emergency situation, is to be done in one day’s time, the prayer said once every hour for nine hours in a row.
Devotion to Christ as a young child dressed as a king has its roots in the Carmelite order of Spain. According to tradition, in 1555, Saint Teresa of Avila gave a statue of the Christ child, dressed in actual royal robes to a noblewoman who was marrying into an aristocratic family in Bohemia. Taking it with her to what is now the city of Prague, her daughter, the Princess Polysena inherited it. In 1623, Princess Polysenia was widowed and chose to devote the rest of her life to charitable causes. When she saw the need that the poverty stricken Carmelite order had, she donated the statue to them, saying, “I give you my dearest possession. As long as you venerate this image, you will not lack anything.” The monks credited this image with the immediate upturn of their fortunes. When they were forced out of their monastery due to a war in 1631, they left the statue behind and the invading army threw it in a rubbish heap. Within seven years the Carmelites were back in their monastery in Prague, desperately attempting to rebuild it. One monk, Father Cyril, who had a particularly strong devotion to the Divine Infant found the little wax statue among the rubble. The only damage done to the statue was its crushed hands.
It was decided that the scarce funds the community had should go to more practical things than the repair of a statue. As the monks struggled to rebuild their former home and church, Father Cyril heard the words: “Have pity on me and I will have pity on you. Give me my hands and I shall give you peace.” After the statue was repaired, the monks again displayed it in the main church. As the city of Prague suffered an epidemic, parishioners began invoking the little statue for aid. The quick answer to their prayers brought many in the surrounding region to seek help. Gradually, the devotion spread to many other countries. Today, the church in Prague built to hold the statue, Our Lady of Victory, is a site of pilgrimage with visitors from all over the world paying their respects to the Divine Infant.

Invoked against: Financial Distress
Explanation of imagery:
Crown: Jesus is King of the World
Raised right hand: blessing
Imperial Orb: The entire world is in his hand.

 

Nine Day Novena to the Infant of Prague

O Infant Jesus, I run to You, begging You through Your Holy Mother to save me in this need (you may name it here), for I truly and firmly believe that Your Divinity can defend me. Full of trust I hope in You to obtain Your holy grace. I love You with all my heart, I am painfully sorry for my sins and on my knees I beg You, o Little Jesus, to free me from them. My resolution is to improve and never more to offend You. Therefore, I offer myself to You, ready to suffer everything for You and to serve You faithfully. I will love my neighbour as myself from my heart for the love of You. O Little Jesus, I adore You, o Mighty Child, I implore You, save me in this need (you can mention it here), that I may enjoy You eternally, with Mary and Joseph see You and with all the angels adore You.
Amen

Nine Hour Devotion to the Infant of Prague

O Jesus, Who has said, ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you, through the intercession of Mary, Your Most Holy Mother, I knock,I seek, I ask that my prayer be granted.
(Make your request)
O Jesus, Who has said, all that you ask of the Father in My Name, He will grant you through the intercession of Mary. Your Most Holy Mother. I humbly and urgently ask Your Father in Your Name that my prayer be granted.
(Make your request)
O Jesus, Who has said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away but My word shall not pass”,
through the intercession of Mary, Your Most Holy Mother, I feel confident that my prayer will be granted.
(Make your request)

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November Novena App, Occupations: Saint Catherine of Alexandria, patron of Philosophers

November 20, 2016

290 – 305

Image result for catherine of alexandria wheel

Feast Day: November 25

Patron of: Philosophers

Keywords: librarians, mechanics, millers, nurses, philosophers, potters, scholars, students, wheels, unmarried women

Symbols: crown, sword, martyrs palms, wheel

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

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. Catherine 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.

Invoked: to find a husband

Explanation:
Spiked Wheel: her instrument of torture which broke
Sword: used to behead her
Palms: symbol of martyrdom

Novena to St. Catherine of Alexandria

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.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, pray for us!

Amen.

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Novena App for November: Mother Cabrini, patron of immigrants

November 11, 2016

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St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

1850-1917
Patron: Immigrants
Feast Day: November 13

“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.”

Keywords: immigrants, the poor, orphanages, orphans, displaced persons, the homeless, hospital administration, business, obedience, meditation

Symbols: Sacred Heart of Jesus, 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.

Mother Cabrini is usually depicted in the habit of her order, surrounded by immigrants and school children.

Explanation:
Jesus with the Sacred Heart glowing: Mother Cabrini was especially devoted to meditating on the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Immigrants: It was her mission to care for the tens of thousands of newly arrived immigrants in the United States.

Novena to Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

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.

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Novena App for November: Saint Martin de Porres, Mystics

November 2, 2016

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579-1639

Feast Day: November 3

Patron of: Mixed Race People

“Compassion, my dear brother, is preferable to cleanliness. Reflect that with a little soap I can easily clean my bed covers but even with a torrent of tears I would never wash from my soul the stain that my harshness toward the unfortunate would create.”

Keywords: barbers, wonder worker, harmony, nature, rats, mice, dogs, healer, animals, nature, charity black people, hairdressers, hoteliers, interracial justice, jurists, mixed race people, the poor, public health organizations, public schools, racial harmony, the poor

Symbols: broom, mice, cats, dogs

Born in Peru, with a Spanish noble father and an African freed slave mother, St. Martin de Porres is one of the most popular saints in the New World. A great healer, he was so in tune with the innate rhythms of nature, he could read minds, heal any sickness, communicate with animals and even levitate. Being a person of mixed race he is called on to quell racial tensions, but his patronage extends to bringing harmony to all situations and he is invoked to heal both physical and spiritual wounds.

Martin and sister had a poor and difficult childhood, as people of mixed race were reviled. At the age of twelve Martin was apprenticed to a barber. 17th Century barbers did more than just cut hair, they also performed medical procedures, made medicines and prescribed treatments for every ailment. A naturally devout boy, Martin meditated on Christ’s passion as he mixed his herbs and it is said he healed as many people with his prayers as with his potions. By the time he was eighteen, Martin had a very successful practice. People from all walks of life sought his abilities. Instead of pursuing a lucrative career in town, Martin joined the local Dominican Convent as a Lay Brother, secretly wishing to become a foreign missionary

While the monastery was founded to tend to Spanish nationals working in Peru, Martin taught his European brethren the true meaning of Christian charity when helping out in the infirmary during a plague. He cared for nobility, slaves, soldiers, merchants and natives with the same respect. The incredible success of his treatments made his superiors install him as the head of the infirmary. Knowing Lima and its citizens as a native of that city made him a very effective fundraiser for the monastery. His superiors gave him full autonomy on dispersing whatever monies he raised to the poor. Every day at noon he opened the doors of the monastery distributing food to whoever needed it,

To Martin  all creatures in creation were equally loved and he inaugurated the first shelters for stray cats and dogs. When the monastery was overrun by rodents, his superiors ordered poison to be set out. Instead, Martin went out to the garden and called the rodents out their hiding places. He promised to feed them, if they promised to stay out of the building. Both sides kept to their agreement, and Martin has been invoked ever since, to prevent mice and rat infestation. Martin used menial labor as a time of prayer and communion with God. He developed deep wisdom from this form of mediation and Archbishops, city officials and students came to him for spiritual guidance. Because of this he is the patron of jurists.

Explanation of symbols:

Mice: Martin fed the mice everyday in exchange for them keeping out of the monastery.

Cats: Martin started the first animal shelters.

Grain: Martin nurtured both humans and animals with the same degree of compassion and love.

Novena to Saint Martin de Porres

Saint Martin de Porres, your concern and charity embraced not only your needy brethren, but also the animals of the field. You are a splendid example of charity; we thank and praise you. From above, hear the requests of your needy brethren.

(mention your request here).

By modeling our lives after yours, and imitating your virtues, may we live content knowing that God has looked favorably upon us. Because this is so, we can accept our burdens with strength and courage in order to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and the Blessed Mother. May we reach the Kingdom of Heaven through the intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

Excerpted from the Novena App

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

 

Novena App September: Saint Vincent de Paul, Situations: Abandoned Children

September 24, 2016

Image result for vincent de paul

1581 – 1660

Feast Day: September 27

Patron of: Abandoned Children

Keywords: charity, orphans, nurses, slaves, convicts, prisoners

Quote: “Go to the poor. You will find God.”

Symbols: cross, sheltering children

Born into a peasant family in Gascony, France, Vincent de Paul was an exceptional student. Assigned by his order to attend to the spiritual needs of French royals, Vincent’s life as a priest would present him with vast contrasts. While on a journey he was unexpectedly taken prisoner by Turkish pirates and sold into slavery. When he converted one of his slave owners, he was released, and on his return to France, founded numerous charitable organizations dedicated to the needs of prisoners, orphans, and the poor. These organizations were the first of their kind and still thrive today. Because he improved the lives of so many of them, he is especially called on to protect children who have been abandoned by their families.

Vincent de Paul was ordained a priest at the age of nineteen. Staying in Toulouse, he made a voyage to Marseille to claim an inheritance. Upon his return by sea, he was kidnapped by pirates and taken to Tunis. After being enslaved by three different owners, he returned to France in 1607 upon his last owner’s conversion. As a parish priest in Paris, he came in contact with some of the wealthiest and most influential families in France. In 17th century Europe, the poor, the orphaned and the abandoned were all considered of the same invisible class as convicts. Seeing the face of God in these forgotten people, he used his numerous connections with the upper classes to help tend to their needs. Vincent de Paul introduced a much needed concept of Christian compassion to society by forming the Daughters of Charity. This organization gave pious wealthy women a way of serving the poor. Financial donations poured in, and Vincent started “Servants of the Poor” and “Ladies of the Poor”, each charity devoted to either the sick, the orphaned, or the imprisoned.

Within a few years Vincent’s charities were started in other countries, Italy, Poland, Ireland, Scotland, the Hebrides, and Madagascar each had a mission. He never forgot or gave up on the lot of prisoners, and sent missionaries to ransom and spiritually tend those in Tunis and Algeria. He also dedicated much time and money to alleviating the suffering of convicts in France.

Living during a time of religious wars, Vincent encouraged peace between Protestants and Catholics. Offering refuge to exiled Catholics from England and Ireland, he also ordered his missionaries in the French countryside to respect and help out any needy Protestants. Though he was frequently welcomed by the King and Queen of France, his first devotion was to the poor and he used his royal audiences to obtain state funds for his many missions and hospitals. Vincent de Paul worked tirelessly until his death and it is said that he did more than any other person to relieve the burden of the poor in the seventeenth century.

Image:
Sheltering child – one most in need of protection
Black cassock for simplicity
Crucifix – the face of God is in the poor

NOVENA PRAYER
God you were patient with St. Vincent de Paul as you moved him from
self-centeredness to be centered on you. Help me through his intercession
to grant me this petition and to know that you will grant what I desire in
your own time (your intention here) . I thank you God for everything and I
will imitate St. Vincent de Paul in growing in holiness through prayer,
participation in the sacraments and service to my neighbor especially the
poor.
Amen.

From the Novena App.

August Novena App, States of Life: Newborns Saint Raymond Nonnatus

August 25, 2016

1204-1240

Feast Day: August 31

Patron of: Newborns

Keywords: midwives, obstetricians, expectant mothers, women in labor, falsely accused, secrets, fever

Quote: “For many hours you did not die in the womb of your dead mother and you were successfully delivered from her side to be the joy of the world.”

Symbols: monstrance, palms with three crowns, cardinal’s hat, padlock

‘Non natus’ is Latin for “never born” and Saint Raymond was given his surname because his mother had died in labor two days before he was delivered by cesarean section. The fact that he did not die in his mother’s womb was considered an extraordinary event in the early thirteenth century, when a good number of mothers and infants were lost during childbirth.  Because of the extraordinary circumstances of his birth, he always felt an affinity for the precarious state of women in labor and their infants. For this reason, midwives, obstetricians and expectant mothers call on him for help in the safe delivery of healthy newborns.

Hailing from Catalonia in Spain, Raymond’s family were from a noble class.  His father attempted to train him to take over the family farms but because of his great devotion to the Virgin Mary, he chose instead to join the Mercedarians, a religious order dedicated to ransoming Christian slaves from the Moors, who occupied much of Spain. The Mercedarians also spiritually administered to Christian slaves in Moorish regions. As the Spanish territory was recaptured, and the Moors driven into North Africa, Raymond Nonnatus followed Christian slaves into Algeria. It was said he spent his entire inheritance ransoming slaves and when he ran out of money he substituted himself for another man’s freedom. He was soon imprisoned for his religious proselytizing and when he succeeded in converting several of his jailers, the Moors bored holes in his lips and sealed his mouth shut with an iron padlock to keep him from preaching. Though he was sentenced to death, the Mercedarians managed to ransom him home to Spain. As he was enroute to Rome to receive the hat of a cardinal, he was struck down by a fever and died in Cardona, 60 miles from Barcelonia. It was said that angels fed and administered communion to Raymond on his deathbed and he is frequently depicted in the company of angels.

Because of the padlock put on his lips, Raymond Nonnatus is invoked against gossip and the temptation to gossip. He is also invoked for help in keeping secrets as well as by priests for protection of keeping the sacred silence of the confessional. On the feast of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, it is customary for those who are victims of slander and gossip to put locks on the saint’s altar to silence their persecutors. In many images Saint Raymond Nonnatus carries the palm of martyrs signifying life defeating death, his palm has three crowns, for chastity, eloquence, and martyrdom.

 

 

Invoked for: safe childbirth, a healthy newborn, to silence gossip, against fever

Prayer to St. Raymond Nonnatus

(Prayer to obtain some special favor through the intercession of St. Raymond. Novena from August 23-31.)

Glorious St. Raymond, filled with compassion for those who invoke thee and with love for those who suffer heavily leaden with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at thy feet and humbly beg of thee to take the present affair which I recommend to thee under thy special protection. ( your request here) Vouchsafe to recommend it to the Blessed Virgin Mary and lay it before the Throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted. Above all obtain for me the grace of one day beholding my God face to Face, and with thee and Mary and the saints praising and blessing to all eternity. Amen.

Good St. Raymond, pray for us and obtain our request.

Good St. Raymond, pray for us and obtain our request.

Good St. Raymond, pray for us and obtain our request.

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory ber.

 

Excerpted from the novena app