Mother Thomas

 It was with such joy in her heart that she greeted me. She had just come from Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and her excitement as she told me, was like a child on Christmas morning. On the front of her habit is depicted the Eucharist in a Monstrance, the God of her devotion that is, and has been, central to her life for 60 years.  Her talents, love, and humility are so understated in her brown habit and black veil, as is her stature, now bent at her waist.  

When she was young, she studied art in Chicago, Mexico and Rome.  It was an Easter Vigil at the Vatican, that she received her vocation.  She received Communion, and she knew that her life would be devoted to Adoration.  She said, “thats all I have to say, on that.”  She had been establishing a promising career in art.  Painting was her passion, and she was ready to give it up. to adore Christ in the Eucharist.  When she entered the Poor Clares, she didn’t paint for 10 years. 

Today she had a drawing of “The Incarnation” that she had been working on.  It was filled with so many nuances of faith in the details.  Her passion was still there  and expressed beautifully in this drawing.  Then she took me into the next room, and laying on the floor was a painting named, “Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and the Communion of Saints.”  It took up the entire floor of this one time chapel.  She had painted it on her hands and knees.

It is inspiring to me that in one moment, this beautiful daughter of God laid down her paint brushes for His will in her life. She  wasn’t confused by this tremendous talent given to her, when God called her to something else.  She trusted that He knew what He was about.  She pursued art to Rome, but found her life in Adoration.  After she was influenced by her life in prayer, God called her back to her paintbrushes, and now her gifts are used to glorify God!  She takes each idea to prayer, then creates with her heart.  I shared my love of St Veronica, with her.  She listened with such engaged intensity, and I could see Mother Thomas taking Veronica into her heart, as I spoke.  Her method of prayer and heart, became evident in that moment.

I hope that I can do as Mother Thomas.  To be so open to the Spirit of God that I can abandon what seems to be God’s gifts to me, for His will.

“At once they left their nets and followed him.”

Mt 4:20

A Week of Saints (September 23-29, 2019)

Monday, September 23: St. Padre Pio, Priest (1887-1968)

Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio, when he was fifteen. He was drafted during World War I, but had tuberculosis, and then discharged. In 1918, he was praying after Mass, and had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet and side.

Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. His confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day; many said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned.  St John Paul II honored him for his prayer and charity.

“Have courage and do not fear the assaults of the Devil. Remember this forever; it is a healthy sign if the devil shouts and roars around your conscience, since this shows that he is not inside your will.”

Patron: stress relief, adolescents

Tuesday, September 24:  Blessed John Henry Newman Priest (1801–1890)

John Henry Newman, spent the first half of his life as an Anglican and the second half as a Roman Catholic. He was a priest, popular preacher, writer, and eminent theologian in both Churches. Catholic theology tended to ignore history, but instead was inclined to draw deductions from first principles. Newman taught that  lived experience of believers was recognized as a key part of theological reflection.  Newman eventually wrote 40 books and 21,000 letters that survive. After Newman died, a Newman Club for Catholic students began at the Universities.

“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons“

Wednesday, September 25:  St Cleophas (time of Christ)

One of two disciples who met Christ on the road to Emmaus. He was also identified as the father of Mary, one of whom stood with the Mother of God at the foot of the Cross. He has been identified as the father of St. James the Less and as brother of St. Joseph.

Thursday, September 26:  Ss. Cosmos & Damian, Martyrs (c287)

Sts. Cosmas and Damian were brothers, from Arabia, known for their knowledge of medicine.  Because of their faith, they never took money for their craft. Their reputation made them marked objects of persecution. They were apprehended, and beheaded.

Patron of Druggist

Friday, September 25:  St Vincent de Paul, Priest (1580-1660)

St. Vincent, known as The Apostle Of Charity, was born to a poor family in FranceFrance, about 1580. On  a sea voyage he was captured by African pirates and made a slave for two years, until he escaped. He returned to France, and began to preach missions.  His charity was extended, from children to old age. In spite of popularity, he remained deeply rooted in humility. 

“If the world takes something from us on the one hand, God will give us something on the other.”

patron:  charitable societies.

Saturday, September 28:  St. Wenceslaus, Martyr (907-935)

St. Wenceslaus was born near Prague, and was the son of a Duke. St. Ludmila, his grandmother taught him Christianity.  

After the death of his father and grandmother, at the hands of the Magyars, he was declared the new ruler.  He encouraged Christianity. His brother, invited Wenceslaus to a religious festival, trapped and killed him on the way to Mass.

Patron:  Bohemia, Prague

Sunday, September 29:  Ss. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels

Saint Michael is the “Prince of the Heavenly Host,” the leader of all the angels. His name is Hebrew for “Who is like God?”  He cast down Lucifer and the evil spirits into Hell, and is invoked for protection against Satan. The four offices of Saint Michael are: to fight against Satan, to rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy,  to be the champion of God’s people, to call away from earth and bring men’s souls to judgment.

“Then war broke out in heaven; Michaeland his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail.

Patron:  Guardian of the Catholic Church, Jewish People, police officers, military, grocers, mariners, paratroopers, firefighters, paramedics, sickness

Saint Gabriel, whose name means “God’s strength,” announced the birth of John the Baptist  and the at Incarnation of the Word to Mary.

He appeared to St. Joseph and to the shepherds, and also that it was he who “strengthened” Jesus during his agony in the garden of Gethsemane.

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,* and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Patron: grocers, soldiers, doctors, mariners, paratroopers, police, and sickness

Patron:  of messengers, telecommunication workers, postal workers

Saint Raphael, whose name means “God has healed” because of his healing of Tobias’ blindness in the Book of Tobit.  Tobit is the only book in which he is mentioned. His office is generally accepted by tradition to be that of healing and acts of mercy.

Raphael is also identified with the angel in John 5:1-4 who descended upon the pond and bestowed healing powers upon it so that the first to enter it after it moved would be healed of whatever infirmity he was suffering.

“I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord”

Patron:  travelers, the blind, and bodily ills

A Week of Saints (September 16-22, 2019)

Monday, September 15th:  Sts. Cornelius, Priest, Pope and Cyprian, Priest, Bishop, Martyr (d. 253)

Because there was no pope for 14 months the Church was governed by a college of Priests.  Cornelius was elected pope “by the judgment of God and of Christ, by the testimony of most of the clergy, by the vote of the people, with the consent of aged priests and of good men.”

Cornelius’s two-year term as pope had to deal with the readmission of Christians during the time of persecution.  Novatian, a Priest was not in favor of this, and had appointed an antipope. This antipope not only denied the church to forgive these Christians, but also murder, adultery, and fornication.  Cornelius held a synod and ordered the “relapsed” to be restored to the Church with the usual “medicines of repentance.”

Cyprian (d. 258) . Cyprian was very educated and a famous orator.  He was generous to the poor and mad a vow of chastity before becoming a Priest.  A friend of Pope Cornelius, he followed him as pope and not the antipopes, although he was not completely on board with St Cornelius.  Cyprian was martyred standing firm in his faith.

Cornelius: “There is one God and one Christ and but one episcopal chair, originally founded on Peter, by the Lord’s authority. There cannot, therefore, be set up another altar or another priesthood. Whatever any man in his rage or rashness shall appoint, in defiance of the divine institution, must be a spurious, profane and sacrilegious ordinance”

Cyprian: “You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your mother…. God is one and Christ is one, and his Church is one; one is the faith, and one is the people cemented together by harmony into the strong unity of a body…. If we are the heirs of Christ, let us abide in the peace of Christ; if we are the sons of God, let us be lovers of peace”

Tuesday, September 17:  St Robert Bellarmine, Priest (1542-1621)

He worked on church doctrine against the Protestant Reformers.  His most famous work is his three-volume Disputations on the Controversies of the Christian Faith. He incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable.  He used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, “The walls won’t catch cold.”  Among many activities, he became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, 

“Love is a marvelous and heavenly thing. It never tires and never thinks that it has done enough“

Patron: canon lawyers, catechists

Wednesday, September 18:  St. Joseph of Cupertino, Priest (1603-1663)

Joseph is most famous for levitating at prayer.  Already as a child, he liked prayer. After a short time with the Capuchins, he joined the Conventuals. He cared for the friary mule, then Joseph began his studies for the priesthood. Though studies were very difficult for him, Joseph gained a great deal of knowledge from prayer.  He fasted and wore iron chains for much of his life.

Patron:  Air Travelers, Astronauts, Pilots

Thursday, September 19:  St. Januarius, Bishop, Martyr (c 305)

St. Januarius was born in Italy and was bishop of Benevento. He went to visit two deacons and two laymen in prison. He also was imprison. They were thrown to the wild beasts, but when the animals did not attack them, they were beheaded. What is believed to be Januarius’ blood is kept in Naples, as a relic. It liquifies and bubbles when exposed in the cathedral. Scientists have not been able to explain this miracle to date..

Patron:  blood banks, volcanic eruptions

Friday, September 20:  Ss. Andrew Kim Tae- gon and Paul Chong Ha-Sang and Companions, Martyrs (1821-1846)

This first native Korean priest was the son of Korean converts. After Baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital. Paul Chong Hasang was a lay apostle and married man, aged 45..

Saturday, September 21:  St. Matthew Apostle, Martyr (time of Christ)

Matthew was a Jew who collected Roman taxes. Tax collectors were generally hated as dishonest traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with “sinners”. So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers. Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that “many” tax collectors and “those known as sinners” came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. Matthew is one of the twelve Apostles.

Sunday, September 22:  St Maurice, Martyr (3rd Century)

Maurice and his fellow legionnaires refused to sacrifice to the gods as ordered by the Emperor. The entire Legion of over six thousand men were put to death. To the end they were encouraged in their constancy by Maurice and two fellow officers, 

Patron: Vatican’s Swiss Guard, armies, weavers, cloth makers

A Week of Saints: Sept 9-15, 2019

Monday, September 9:  St Ciaran, Priest (516-549)

St. Cieran was born in Connacht, Ireland, the son of a carpenter. He was considered the most learned monk at Clonard. He was forced to leave a monastery,  for what they considered his excessive charity.  With eight companions he eventually came to a spot on the Shannon River, which later became the famous Clinmanoise, This monastery became known as a great center of Irish learning, with St Ciaran it’s  Abbot. He is is one of the “twelve apostles of Ireland”. Many extraordinary miracles are attributed to St Ciaran. 

Tuesday, September 10:  St. Thomas of Villanova Bishop(1488-1555)

St. Thomas was from Castile in Spain and achieved a superior education at the University of Alcala.  He became a popular professor of philosophy there.  He was ordained a priest while an Augustian friar.

He was a teacher, despite his absentmindedness and poor memory. When provincial of the friars, he sent the first Augustinians to the New World. He was appointed the archbishopric of Granada.  He wore the same habit that he had received in the novitiate, mending it himself. Several hundred poor came to Thomas’s door each morning and received a meal, wine and money. When criticized because he was at times being taken advantage of, he replied, “If there are people who refuse to work, that is for the governor and the police to deal with. My duty is to assist and relieve those who come to my door.” Thomas of Villanova was  called  “the almsgiver” and “the father of the poor.”

“Dismiss all anger and look into yourself a little. Remember that he of whom you are speaking is your brother, and as he is in the way of salvation, God can make him a saint, in spite of his present weakness.”

Wednesday, September 11:  St. Cyprian, Bishop (d. 258)

Highly educated, a famous orator.  He became a Christian as an adult, within two years he had been ordained a priest and was chosen, against his will, as Bishop of Carthage.  During a plague in Carthage, he urged Christians to help everyone, including their enemies and persecutors.  One of the early writers of the Primacy of the Pope. He refused to sacrifice to the pagan deities and firmly professed Christ, Africa, and was martyred by the Roman proconsul. 

“He [Christ] protects their faith and gives strength to believers in proportion to the trust that each man who receives that strength is willing to place in him.”

Patron: North Africa

Thursday, September 12:  The Most Holy Name of Mary

The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and in 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. In 1683, John Sobieski, king of Poland, brought an army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies loyal to Mohammed IV in Constantinople. After Sobieski entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he and his soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims. Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to the entire Church.

Friday, September 13:  St. John Chrysostom, Bishop (d. 407)

.St. John, was named Chrysostom (golden-mouthed) on account of his eloquence.  He lived the life of an anchorite in the mountains near Antioch, but the poor state of his health forced him to return to Antioch, where he was ordained a priest.

He was advanced to Bishop of Constantinople and became one of the greatest lights of the Church. But he had enemies, the empress Eugoxia, and he was sent into exile.

In the midst of his sufferings, he found the greatest peace and happiness. He had the consolation of knowing that the Pope remained his friend, and did for him what lay in his power.

“These are two things: sin and repentance. Sin is a wound; repentance is a medicine. Just as there are for the body wounds and medicines, so for the soul are sins and repentance. However, sin has the shame and repentance possesses the courage.”

Patron:  education, epilepsy, lecturers, orators, preachers

Saturday, September 14:  The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Early in the fourth century St. Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ’s life. She razed the Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior’s tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.

The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus’ head: Then “all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on.”

Sunday, September 15:  Our Lady of Sorrows

The principal biblical references to Mary’s sorrows are in Luke 2:35 and John 19:26-27. The Lucan passage is Simeon’s prediction about a sword piercing Mary’s soul; the Johannine passage relates Jesus’ words to Mary and to the beloved disciple.  Many early Church writers interpret the sword as Mary’s sorrows, especially as she saw Jesus die on the cross. St. Ambrose in particular sees Mary as a sorrowful yet powerful figure at the cross. Mary stood fearlessly at the cross while others fled. Mary looked on her Son’s wounds with pity, but saw in them the salvation of the world. As Jesus hung on the cross, Mary did not fear to be killed but offered herself to her persecutors.

A Week of Saints, September 2-8, 2019

Monday, September 2:  Blessed John Francis Burté  Priests, martyr (d. 1772)

These priests were victims of the French Revolution. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy required all priests to take an oath which was a denial of the faith. These men refused and were executed.

John Francis Burté became a Franciscan, and after ordination taught theology. Later he was arrested and held in the convent of the Carmelites.

With 182 others, including several bishops and many religious and  priests.  They were massacred in Paris in 1772.

Tuesday, September 3:  St. Gregory the Great, Pope (540?-604)

At the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome.

He was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners,  and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of “Gregorian” chant is uncertain.

In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called “the Great,” hehas been given a place with Augustine, Ambrose and Jerome as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.

“We make Idols of our concepts, but Wisdom is born of wonder”

Patron:  Musicians, singers, students, and teachers

Wednesday, September 4:  St. Rose of Viterbo, Secular Franciscan (1233-1251)

Rose achieved sainthood in only 18 years of life. She had a great desire to pray and to aid the poor. She lived a life of penance and was generous to the poor.  She became a Secular Franciscan at age ten, and began preaching in the streets about sin and the sufferings of Jesus.

“Prayer reveals to souls the vanity of earthly goods and pleasures. It fills them with light, strength and consolation; and gives them a foretaste of the calm bliss of our heavenly home“

Patron:  people in exile; people rejected by religious orders;     

Thursday, September 5,:  St. Teresa of Calcutta Religious Sister, (1910-1997)

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, was short in stature but known throughout the world for her work among the poorest of the poor.she founded the Missionaries of Charity, as a diocesan religious community. At age 18 she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. She was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India. It was there she chose the name Teresa .

While riding a train, Sister Teresa heard what she explained as “a call within a call. She was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them, and give up her life with the Sisters to “follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.”

The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long. Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity. Other helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, the use of buildings. In 1952 the city of Calcutta gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute. As the Order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging and street people.

For the next four decades Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor.  She traveled the world inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. In

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

Patron: World Youth Day, Missionaries of Charity 

Friday, September 6:  Blessed Claudio Granzotto (1900-1947)

At the age of nine his father died, and six years later he was drafted into the Italian army.  His artistic abilities, especially in sculpture, led to study and earn a diploma in art.   When Claudio entered the Friars Minor, his parish priest wrote, 

“The Order is receiving not only an artist but a saint.” Prayer, charity to the poor and artistic work characterized his life, which was cut short by a brain tumor, and died on the feast of the Assumption.

Patron:  sculptors, artists

Saturday, September 7:  Blessed Frédéric Ozanam (1813-1853)

Frédéric was a French scholar. He founded with fellow students the Conference of Charity, later known as the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. 

“Let us go in simplicity where merciful Providence leads us, content to see the stone on which we should step without wanting to discover all at once and completely the windings of the road.”

 Patron:  politicians, lawyers, philanthropists, laborers

Sunday, September 8:  Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Church has celebrated Mary’s birth since at least the sixth century. Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s birth. Tradition tells us that Anna and Joachim were infertile but prayed for a child, with a promise of a child that will be a part of Salvation.

And Then He Rested

I like to take photographs. When composing a picture, I look through the view finder, and try to find the impression I want of my subject. When I finally see what appeals to me, and I’m happy with it, I release the shutter, and find gratification in the click of my camera, knowing that I’ve accomplished my goal. I imagine a chef feels the same way, when adding that final ingredient that creates the perfect bite, or an artist, with the last brush stroke of a masterpiece, a composer, engineer, surgeon, writer, designer etc. We have all experienced the feeling of completion and satisfaction with the result. That moment we know we’re done, because we’ve poured ourselves into something, and we think, this is it. This scratches the itch, and any more, would be meaningless.

It’s good to remember, when I see something breathtaking in nature, that as beautiful as that is, God rested after he created us, humanity. In His own Image He created them, male and female. WE are that last brush stroke of the Creator.