Archive for the ‘Mothers’ Category

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.

Image result for rita of cascia

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).

novena app

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

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

 

Novena App Patrons of Grandparents: Saints Ann and Joaquin

July 14, 2016

Feast Day: July 26

First Century B.C.

Patron of : Grandparents

Keywords: child rearing, childless people, fathers, family crisis, infertility, mothers, pregnancy

Quote: “O blessed couple, all the world is indebted to you, for it is by your means that it can offer to its Creator the most excellent gift possible, her who is worthy to be Mother of His only Son.” – St. John Damascene

Symbols: two white doves, meeting at the golden gate, teaching the Virgin Mary

Grandparents are the foundation of a family and we invoke Saints Joachim and Ann for strength in every sort of family crisis. As parents of the Virgin Mary and the grandparents of Jesus Christ, they offer a vast array of earthly experiences relatable to every human being. Infertility, late parenthood, an unmarried pregnant daughter, a grandson who was imprisoned and executed, are all parts of their life together which they accepted with grace and dignity.

Joachim and Ann are important as moral examples rather than truthful historical figures. According to legend, Joachim and Ann were married twenty years and still had not conceived a child. Living in Nazareth they were upstanding citizens, always tithing one third of their income to the temple. After many years, their barrenness was considered a form of divine judgment and eventually their contribution to the temple was refused and they were ostracized by their community. In shame, Joachim went off to live with his shepherds. There he was visited by an angel who told him, that Ann was pregnant with a child named Mary who was to be dedicated to the Lord. He was to return home and find his wife, who would be waiting at the golden gate, the entrance to the city. Doing as he was told, his joyful reunion with Ann at the golden gate has become a famous image in art history.

Mary was raised according to the instructions of the angel, she was consecrated to the Lord at infancy and sent off to live in the temple, away from the world, at the age of three. Accepting this great sacrifice of giving up what is most cherished to God, Joachim and Ann acted out an almost impossible act of faith. Though Saint Ann was younger and lived much longer than her husband, she and Joachim are inseparable in sharing the important patronage of grandparents.

Explanation:
A rare image of Joachim as an older father, and his wife, Ann, instructing the Virgin Mary. They are divinely inspired by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Novena to Saints Joachim and Ann

Saints Joachim and Ann, grandparents of Jesus and parents of Mary, we seek your intercession. We beg you to direct all our actions to the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. Strengthen us when we are tempted, console us during our trials, help us when we are in need, be with us in life and in death.

O divine savior, we thank you for having chosen saint Joachim and Ann to be the parents of our Blessed Mother Mary and so to be your beloved grandparents. We place ourselves under their patronage this day. We recommend to them our families, our children, and our grandchildren. Keep them from all spiritual and physical harm. Grant that they may ever grow in greater love of God and others.

Saints Joachim and Ann, we have many great needs. We beg you to intercede for us before the throne of your divine grandson. All of us here have our special intentions, our own special needs, and we pray that through your intercession our prayers may be granted. Amen.

(Mention your request here)

Excerpted from the  Novena App

Feast of Saint Adelaide, December 16

December 16, 2015

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Born 931

Patron Saint of Brides

Considered the most famous woman of her time. Adelaide was married twice. Her first marriage was arranged and ended with her husbands death three years later. Eventually she married Otto the Great with whom she had four children. Adelaide’s life was full of drama, including exile and raising her grandchildren.

She is one of the saints in Saints for All Occasions Notecards.

“These notecards are amazing – simply beautiful. They can be used for any occasion. We recently used these notecards for a retreat – they were so inspirational for those who received them.”—Rosie PS, Amazon review

Novena App: OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

December 5, 2015

Feast Day: December 12

Patron of: Motherly Comfort, Mexico, The Americas

Quote: “Am I not your mother?”

 

Keywords: the Americas, compassion, love, forgiveness, mercy, motherly comfort, protection

 

Symbols: mandorla (body halo), roses, stars, crescent moon, angel

 

This image of Mary is the preeminent cultural icon of Mexico and the American Southwest, cherished by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Unlike other apparitions of Mary, where she sometimes issues warnings to mankind, in her visitation to the Aztec people, she promised hope, love and comfort at a time when their own way of life had been destroyed.   We invoke Our Lady of Guadalupe anytime we need the wisdom and comfort of a motherly force.

 

In December of 1531, the world of the once great Aztec civilization lay in ruins. The native inhabitants of what would become Mexico City were suffering brutally under the domination of Spanish Colonialists who had first invaded in 1519. Within two short years the forces of Hernan Cortes, with the help of native enemies of the Aztecs had completely overrun and destroyed a dual culture of light and dark, one of gracious cities and blood filled temples. Believing that their superiority and way of life depended on feeding their gods human sacrifices, the Aztecs routinely invaded neighboring tribes, sacrificing tens of thousands of captives a week. Gradually, the images of their own gods, particularly the female ones, took on more monstrous and grotesque features. The Spanish responded  to these sacred sites by wreaking havoc and destruction upon them. Within ten years the remaining Aztec residents were heart-sick, depressed and dying off.

 

On December 9, 1531, and Aztec convert to Catholicism called Juan Diego, was on his way to mass. Distracted by the singing of birds on a hillside, he stopped. He then heard the kindly calling of his name in his native Nahuatl language. He approached the noble Aztec woman n the hill and was stunned at the heightened glow of her surroundings. She introduced herself as the perfect maiden Saint Mary, honorable mother of the true God. She asked him to go to the bishop and request a temple be built to her on the hill. She added, “I am the compassionate mother of you and your people, here in this land and of all the people who love me, search for me and confide in me…”  After a long wait, the bishop told Juan Diego that he needed a sign proving that this was a true appearance of Mary. In subsequent days, when Juan Diego again saw the woman on the hill, he begged her to get someone who the bishop would respect more to deliver her request. She kindly replied that he was the perfect one for her message. The next day Juan Diego walked another way into town in order to avoid the woman as his uncle was sick and he did not want to waste any time doing her errands. Nonplussed, she came down from the other side of the hill to meet him. Flustered, he told her he had to tend to his uncle and had no time to wait for the bishop who did not believe him anyway. The woman assured him that his uncle was already well and then told him to gather roses among the rocks.  This being winter he was amazed at how many roses were in full bloom. The woman arranged the roses in his cloak and again sent him off to the bishop. When he was finally granted this audience, it was the bishop’s turn to gasp in amazement. As Juan Diego unwrapped his cloak of roses, there imprinted on his cloak was the exact image of the lady on the hill. The bishop fell to his knees and begged Juan’s forgiveness. Today, tens of millions of pilgrims flock to Mexico City to see this original cloth which is in the cathedral named after this apparition of Mary, Our  Lady of Guadalupe.

 

The Virgin Mary appears to each visionary as a member of their own culture.  This image of a kindly, loving mother figure so impressed the native people of Mexico, that thousands of them came to be baptized within the first few months of the cloth being put on display.

 

Explanation of images:

Mandorla: a body halo which signifies that Mary is wrapped in the grace of God.

Robe of stars: By wearing the stars she is showing that her God is more powerful than the stars. Blue is the color of royalty and virginity.

Crescent Moon: to Christians, Mary’s virginity. To Indian’s Mary is stronger than the moon god, the god of darkness.

Angel:  Carried there by heaven.

 

 

 

Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe

 

Our Lady of Guadalupe, according to your message in Mexico I venerate you as “the Virgin Mother Of the true God for whom we live, the Creator of all the world, maker of heaven and earth.” In spirit I kneel before your most holy image which you miraculously imprinted

upon the cloak of the Indian Juan Diego. And with the faith of the countless numbers of pilgrims

who visit your shrine, I beg you for this favor: (mention your request).

 

Remember, O Immaculate Virgin, the words you spoke to your devout client, “I am a merciful Mother to you and to all your people who love me and trust in me and invoke my help. I listen to their lamentations and solace all their sorrows and their sufferings.” I beg you to be a merciful Mother to me, because I sincerely love you and trust in you and invoke your help. I entreat you, Our Lady of Guadalupe, to grant my request, if this should be the will of God, in order that I may

bear witness to your love, your compassion, your help and protection. Do not forsake me in my needs. Amen.

 

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

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Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

February 11, 2015

115_GrottoLourdes, an ancient village in the valley of the Pyrenees mountains, is in the extreme southwest of France near the Spanish border. It is the site of the most famous series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary and the most visited pilgrimage shrine in Christendom. Credited with exuding a powerful healing energy, it is inundated by those in need of physical and spiritual renewal. Attracting well over 200 million visitors since its discovery, Lourdes is a relatively modern holy site, having only been recognized by the Church as an official pilgrimage place since 1862. It became famous after a poor, illiterate local 14 year old girl, Bernadette Soubirous saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in a grotto near a great rock mound called Massabeille. Despite much ridicule and persecution inflicted on her by the local authorities, Bernadette could not be shaken from her story. While communing with the Virgin, Bernadette uncovered a trickle of muddy water in a place where water had never been. Today, that tiny spring gushes forth with thousands of gallons of water daily. Considered to contain inexplicable healing properties by the devout, many terminally ill people of all faiths flock to Lourdes as a last resort in curing their ailments. Catholics go to spiritually refresh themselves and to honor this visitation by the Mother of God.

Though officially ruled over by France, the villages of the Pyrenees had little to do with their country on any cultural or social level. Most spoke in patois, their own language, never learning French at all. They dressed in their own local costumes, disdained the central government and were known as the ‘Indians’ of France for the exotic way they lived. While the 19th century was celebrated as a great secular age, when France was finally freed of all political domination of the Catholic Church and science and logic replaced faith, the villagers of the Pyrenees defied all official teachings and held on to their religious beliefs. They were hostile to the French government and suspicious of any forms of official beauracracy. Living in a harsh, mountainous landscape, they held much of nature as sacred. They had little faith in modern medicine and combined ancient Celtic beliefs with their Catholic prayers. The love of the Virgin Mary was at the heart of their religious life. Since the 13th century shepherds and shepherdesses had reported direct contact with her, either through visions or the miraculous discovery of statues of her. Shrines to the Madonna were abundant and most towns had a special day of pilgrimage honoring her.

Bernadette Soubirous was a 14 year old girl who’s impoverished family lived in a dank former dungeon. Stricken with asthma, she was considered slow and held back from receiving her First Holy Communion because she had trouble learning her catechism. On February 11, 1858 her mother needed firewood for cooking and could not afford to buy any. She sent Bernadette, her younger sister and a friend out to look for some. So that they would not be accused of stealing, the girls had to go outside of town to public lands. There was an outcropping of rock facing the river with a grotto at its base known as Massabielle. The pigs of Lourdes grazed there and respectable residents did not go to that area because it was considered filthy. According to legend, the Massabeille had been sacred to the pagans in prehistoric times and those passing by it always crossed themselves to ward off the aura of evil that they felt emanated from it. Because of her illness, Bernadette stayed behind while the two younger girls waded across the river to get wood. She decided to join them and began taking off her stockings. It was at this point she heard the sound of a wind and then saw a soft light coming from the niche in the grotto. A beautiful, smiling girl in white seemed to beckon to her. Bernadette was startled and instinctively reached for her rosary. She was unable to pick it up until the young girl produced one herself. They made the sign of the cross together and as Bernadette prayed the rosary, the young girl passed her own beads through her fingers in silent prayer. When Bernadette finished, the young girl smiled and disappeared. Despite her mother’s opposition, Bernadette returned to the site that Sunday after mass. She was joined by a group of friends. The girl in white appeared and Bernadette said, “If you come from God, stay. If you don’t, go away.” She then sprinkled holy water at the girl to make sure she was not from the devil. Bernadette was relieved when the girl laughed and inclined her head to receive more water. Bernadette was the only one who could see or commune with the girl. Her friends were astounded by the physical change in her demeanor. She had fallen into a beautiful rapture and seemed totally relieved of her asthma. One threw a large stone in the direction of the niche and Bernadette did not flinch. Fearing she had had some sort of fit, they ran to get help. The towns residents who came were shocked at the beautiful transformation in Bernadette. Word of her visions started to spread.

Each time she returned to the grotto she was joined by a larger crowd. Many thought the apparition was either the ghost of a devout townswomen who had recently died or a soul who had wandered away from purgatory. Bernadette’s third vision was on the 18th of February and two important townswomen brought along a pen and paper. The girl in white laughed when Bernadette held out the writing instruments and for the first time spoke to her, addressing her with great politeness, “Boulet aoue ra gracia de bie aci penden quinze dias?” she asked in the patois dialect. (“Would you have the grace to come here for fifteen days?”) When Bernadette replied that she would ask her parents’ permission, the girl said, “I do not promise you happiness in this life, but in the next.” During these next two weeks news rapidly spread through Lourdes about the apparitions and the civil authorities felt obliged to take action. Bernadette was taken to the local police station for questioning. The authorities tried to make her admit that it was all a hoax. When she refused, they began to threaten her family. The Church was also skeptical and embarrassed by what they regarded as superstitious worship. The local pastor, Father Peyramale did not want to give the apparitions any credence. Even though the girl in the visions had not named herself, the belief that she might be the Virgin was growing among the townspeople.

For her part, Bernadette did not speculate on the mysterious girl’s identity, always referring to her as ‘Aquero’, the patois word for indescribable being. It was on February 25th, the ninth apparition of the girl that Bernadette was told to go drink at the spring and wash in it. Thinking the girl meant the river, she went towards the Gave. In her words, “…Aquero called me back and pointed to a spot beneath the rock. I found some moisture there but it was mud. Three times I threw it away even though the Lady said to drink it. Then I washed in it only to have my face besmeared with mud. When the Lady left, my Aunt Bernarde slapped my face. ‘Stop your nonsense,’ she said as she sent me home to the jeers of the people…” By the afternoon the muddy area was flowing with pure water and many in the laughing crowd were amazed.because they had never seen a spring there before. In subsequent apparitions the girl asked for penitence and the conversion of sinners. Bernadette said that she was afraid that the people climbing all over the grotto would disturb the rosebush where the girl stood. “I was afraid she might fall, but she kept on smiling at the people. She loved them, and she always seemed sorry to leave them.” At 13th visit Bernadette was told to tell the priests to come to the grotto on procession and to build a chapel. Father Peyramale was enraged and told her that if the girl in white wanted a chapel she should say who she was and she should make the wild rose bush in the niche blossom. It was after this 13th visit that the water in the spring was first accredited with healing properties. A pregnant woman with a paralyzed hand became totally cured and a stonecutter had his sight restored after he bathed his eyes in the water. Before this, there had been no physical proof of Bernadette’s visits.

The vast crowds that had started to accompany her did not see or hear the girl in white. They only believed in these visions because of Bernadette’s great physical transformation. Thursday, March 4th was the last of the 15 days. Over 8,000 people went to the grotto expecting to see something miraculous. At the end of her vision, 45 minutes, Bernadette put out her candle and went home. The rosebush did not bloom, the girl in white did not declare any message. Bernadette, unconcerned about the wild emotions she had aroused, went home content. For the next three weeks, Bernadette later wrote, “The people pestered me, the police watched me, and the public prosecutor almost crushed me…” Then, on the night of March 24th she awoke with the familiar urge to return. On March 25th,the day of the Annunciation, she returned to the grotto at 5AM. The girl in white appeared and Bernadette asked her four times to say who she was. “Aquero extended her hands towards the ground, swept them upwards to join them on her heart, raised her eyes, but not her head to Heaven, leaned tenderly towards me and said, ‘Que soy era Immaculada Concptiou.’ (‘I am the Immaculate Conception.’) She smiled at me. She disappeared. I was alone.” Father Peyramale was astounded at this announcement. This expression meant nothing to a simple peasant girl like Bernadette. The Catholic tradition that Mary had been conceived without original sin so that she might be worthy to be the Mother of God had only been formally defined as Church doctrine in 1854. Eventually, the parish priest would be Bernadette’s greatest defender as she was harassed and examined by government officials, psychologists and church hierarchy.

She never altered the account of her story to any of them, “I do not ask you to believe; I only told you what I had seen.” Three eminent Parisian doctors declared that she was mentally and emotionally sound but that she suffered from asthma. (“My mother could have told them that and saved them the trouble.”) Under increased pressure from the authorities, the grotto was closed off and anyone visiting it threatened with arrest. On the 16th of July, Bernadette saw the girl in white for the last time. She knelt in the meadow on the far side of the river. “…I began my rosary and my Lady stood in the Grotto smiling at me. It was the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. She looked more beautiful than I had ever seen her. This would be the last time I would see her on this earth….She left heaven in my heart and it has been there ever since.” While Lourdes developed into a world famous place of pilgrimage, Bernadette, disliking the attention her presence created, joined the Sisters of Nevers in 1866. Her novitiate was difficult and her health deteriorating. She never showed any interest in the miraculous healings promised by the water in the spring. Her insistence that the girl in white was no older than 12 was ignored and priestly experts stated that since Mary had to be between the age of 15 and 17 at the time of the Annunciation, the official image of the apparition should depict her at that age. Bernadette never liked the statue that was erected in the Grotto in 1864, declaring it “too big and too old”. She died of tuberculosis in 1879. When her body was exhumed in 1908, it was found to be uncorrupted. She was recognized as a Saint by the Catholic church in 1933. Gradually, the local officials had to relent and re-open the grotto to the public. The Bishop accepted the apparitions and approved the shrine in 1862. After the railroad line was finished in 1866, pilgrims began arriving in the tens of thousands. After 1873, when incidents of healing at the spring began to be reported, the shrine rapidly developed an international reputation for having healing powers. Bathing pools filled with cold water piped from Bernadette’s spring were created for visiting pilgrims. Much effort was put on the scientific community to repudiate the healings at Lourdes.

Many illnesses were declared to be hysterical in nature and therefore cured by the powers of suggestion. Studies of the water from the spring showed it had no special chemical properties In 1882 a medical bureau was established to test the validity of the cures. Before a cure can be officially considered, a patient’s medical records are studied by a commission of doctors and independent medical professionals. The alleged cure must be immediate and permanent to be regarded as a miracle. When an investigation does occur, the conclusion is placed in one of four possible categories: (1)There has been no cure. (2)A partial cure has taken place. (3)There has been a cure, but there are medical or psychological reasons for it. (4) There has been a cure for which there is not natural or scientific explanation. The pilgrim must then return after a year for further examination. Since March 1, 1858, the Church has recognized 65 miracles at Lourdes. There are countless undocumented healings and over 5,000 documented “inexplicable healings”. Father Peyramale completed the first basilica upon the rock of Massabielle in 1873. After the great “national” French pilgrimages were initiated where Catholics of all classes came to bathe the sick at Lourdes, a larger church had to be built. The Church of the Holy Rosary was consecrated in 1901.

Today, the Basilica rises in 3 tiers over the grotto. Across the stream is a cavernous underground church which seats 20,000. In the grotto the miraculous spring has been channeled into a long row of spigots where visitors may collect the “Lordais water” and take it home. A small hospital and a number of hostels serve the needs of the seriously ill There is a Rosary procession held by torchlight each evening and the entire shrine is active throughout the day and evening with various services, processions and blessings of the sick. At the heart of the Lourdes pilgrimage is service to the sick and the infirm. Many devotees do not go for themselves but to aid others and to commune with God in a holy atmosphere.

There are four traditional gifts imparted by Lourdes: 1) The gift of miraculous water 2) The gift of healing 3) The gift of reconciliation 4) The gift of strength and friendship.

Feast of St. Gerald Majella

October 10, 2013

St.GeraldSt. Gerard Majella

1726 – 1755

Feast Day: October 16

Patron of: Infertility

Keywords: expectant mothers, infertility, lay brothers, mothers, pregnancy

Quote: “Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?”

Symbols: skull, lily crucifix, psalter

A quiet and humble lay brother in the newly found Redemptorist order, St. Gerard Majella did not display his great mystical gifts until the last three years of his life. Before his early death at the age of twenty-nine, he was known as “The Wonderworker of the Eighteenth Century”, for his ability to read consciences, predict the future, be in two places at once, heal the dying and infuse his surroundings with serenity. He is most invoked by women who want to conceive a child and though there are many different novenas to him, The Prayer for Motherhood is particularly popular throughout the world.

Born in a town south of Naples to a tailor and his wife, Gerard was a sickly child, contemplative by nature. At the age of twelve, his father died, plunging his family into poverty. Gerard was apprenticed to a tailor in order to support his mother and three sisters.  He suffered brutally at the hands of this abusive man and eventually got a job as a servant for the local bishop. His hopes of entering the Capuchin order were dashed due to his poor health. Upon returning home, his devout nature and his kindness, especially to children, was noticed by St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorist order. He invited Gerard to join as a lay brother and work in the slums among the poor. It was while he was serving on this mission that Gerard faced the greatest challenge of his life. A young woman accused him of fathering her unborn child. When Gerard refused to comment on these charges or defend himself, the Redemptorists had no choice but to deprive him of the privilege of working with them. Months later when the woman admitted that she had lied, a bewildered Alphonse Liguori asked Gerard why he had remained silent. He answered that he had complete faith in God and that silence was the only answer to unjust accusations.

Raised as the only male in a household of women, St. Gerard was particularly sensitive to the problems women had in conceiving and giving birth. While visiting family friends, he dropped his handkerchief while leaving. The young woman of the family ran to give it to him and he refused to take it saying, “Keep it. One day it will be of service to you.” Though puzzled, she did as he said. Years later, while dying in childbirth she remembered his words and had the handkerchief brought to her and placed on her womb. All deadly complications stopped and she gave birth to a healthy baby. The handkerchief of St. Gerard’s was passed from mother to mother until his canonization in 1904. The remaining shred is still used to bless relics for those seeking to conceive a child or have a safe delivery.

Explanation of symbols:

Lily: purity

Skull: contemplative, the sign of one who knows that this life is temporary.

Psalter: book of devotional texts

Crucifix: devotion to Christ and willing to suffer

Novena Prayer for to St. Gerard Majella for Motherhood

O good St Gerard, powerful intercessor before God and wonder worker of our day, confidently I call upon you and seek your aid.  On Earth you always fulfilled God’s designs, help me now to do the holy will of God.  Implore the Master of Life, from whom all paternity proceeds, to render me fruitful in offspring, that I may raise up children to God in this life, and in the world to come, heirs to the Kingdom of His Glory. Amen.

Feast of St.Raymond Nonnatus

August 29, 2013

St.Raymond copySt. Raymond Nonnatus 1204-1240
Feast Day: August 31
Patron of: Newborns, Midwives, Obstetricians, Expectant Mothers, Women In Labor, Falsely Accused, Secrets, Fever.

“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.”

‘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 en route to Rome to receive the hat of a cardinal, he was struck down by a fever and died in Cardona, 60 miles from Barcelona. 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.

Novena
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.

Say one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.

Feast of St.Monica

August 19, 2013

St.MonicaSt. Monica
331 – 387
Feast Day: August 27

Patron 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.

Explanation:
Light from sky: Grace. Through prayer, Monica channeled grace to convert her son.
Outstretched arms: pointing to Africa, her homeland.
Palm tree: the shore of Ostia Antica, where Monica’s earthly life ended.

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

Feast of Saint Ann and Saint Joachim

July 20, 2013

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Saint Ann and Saint Joachim
First Century B.C.
Feast Day: July 26

Patron of : Grandparents

Keywords: child rearing, childless people, fathers, family crisis, infertility, mothers, pregnancy

Quote: “O blessed couple, all the world is indebted to you, for it is by your means that it can offer to its Creator the most excellent gift possible, her who is worthy to be Mother of His only Son.” – St. John Damascene

Symbols: two white doves, meeting at the golden gate, teaching the Virgin Mary

Grandparents are the foundation of a family and we invoke Saints Joachim and Ann for strength in every sort of family crisis. As parents of the Virgin Mary and the grandparents of Jesus Christ, they offer a vast array of earthly experiences relatable to every human being. Infertility, late parenthood, an unmarried pregnant daughter, a grandson who was imprisoned and executed, are all parts of their life together which they accepted with grace and dignity.

Joachim and Ann are important as moral examples rather than truthful historical figures. According to legend, Joachim and Ann were married twenty years and still had not conceived a child. Living in Nazareth they were upstanding citizens, always tithing one third of their income to the temple. After many years, their barrenness was considered a form of divine judgment and eventually their contribution to the temple was refused and they were ostracized by their community. In shame, Joachim went off to live with his shepherds. There he was visited by an angel who told him, that Ann was pregnant with a child named Mary who was to be dedicated to the Lord. He was to return home and find his wife, who would be waiting at the golden gate, the entrance to the city. Doing as he was told, his joyful reunion with Ann at the golden gate has become a famous image in art history.

Mary was raised according to the instructions of the angel, she was consecrated to the Lord at infancy and sent off to live in the temple, away from the world, at the age of three. Accepting this great sacrifice of giving up what is most cherished to God, Joachim and Ann acted out an almost impossible act of faith. Though Saint Ann was younger and lived much longer than her husband, she and Joachim are inseparable in sharing the important patronage of grandparents.

Explanation:
A rare image of Joachim as an older father, and his wife, Ann, instructing the Virgin Mary. They are divinely inspired by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Novena to Saints Joachim and Ann

Saints Joachim and Ann, grandparents of Jesus and parents of Mary, we seek your intercession. We beg you to direct all our actions to the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. Strengthen us when we are tempted, console us during our trials, help us when we are in need, be with us in life and in death.

O divine savior, we thank you for having chosen saint Joachim and Ann to be the parents of our Blessed Mother Mary and so to be your beloved grandparents. We place ourselves under their patronage this day. We recommend to them our families, our children, and our grandchildren. Keep them from all spiritual and physical harm. Grant that they may ever grow in greater love of God and others.

Saints Joachim and Ann, we have many great needs. We beg you to intercede for us before the throne of your divine grandson. All of us here have our special intentions, our own special needs, and we pray that through your intercession our prayers may be granted. Amen.

(Mention your request here)