Saturday, October 29, 2011

Devotion for Saturday/Sunday: Veni, Creator Spiritus

Creator Spirit, by whose aid
The world's foundations first were laid,
Come visit every pious mind;
Come pour thy joys on humankind;

From sin and sorrow set us free,
And make thy temples worthy thee...
Refine and purge our earthly parts;
But, O, inflame and fire our hearts!

Our frailties help, our vice control,
Submit the senses to the soul;
And when rebellious they are grown,
Then lay thy hand and hold them down
Chase from our minds the infernal foe,
and peace, the fruit of love, bestow;
And lest our feet should step astray,
Protect and guide us on the way.

Make us eternal truths receive,
And practice all that we believe;
Give us thyself tht we may see
The Father and the Son, by thee

John Dryden(1631-1700)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Devotion for today: love's greatest choice

Today, as we approach All Saints Day (Nov.1), we are humbled by the example of a young girl.
St. Maria Goretti: Born in Corinaldo, Ancona, Italy, on October 16 1890; her farm worker father moved his family to Ferrier di Conca, near Anzio. Her father died of malaria and her mother had to struggle to feed her children. In 1902 an eighteen-year-old neighbor, Alexander, grabbed her from her steps and tried to rape her. When Maria said that she would rather die than submit, Alexander began stabbing her with a knife. Maria continually cried out to her assailant, "No! It is a sin! God forbids it! You will go to hell!" On her deathbed a day later, in her agony, she forgave her murderer. "For the love of Jesus I forgive him, and I want him to be with me one day in heaven!" Her death didn't end her forgiveness, however. Alexander was captured and sentenced to thirty years. He was unrepentant until he had a dream that he was in a garden. Maria was there and gave him flowers. When he woke, he was a changed man, repenting of his crime and living a reformed life. When he was released after 27 years he went directly to Maria's mother to beg her forgiveness, which she gave. "If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness," she said. When Maria was declared a saint in 1950, Alexander was there in the St. Peter's crowd to celebrate her canonization. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1950 for her purity as model for youth. She is called a martyr because she fought against Alexander's attempts at sexual assault. However, the most important aspect of her story is her forgiveness of her attacker -- her concern for her enemy extending even beyond death.,
Scripture for meditation: 1 Thessalonians:3-5, 7:  It is God's will that you grow in holiness: that you abstain from immorality, each of you guarding his member in sanctity and honor, not in passionate desire as do the Gentiles who know not God. God has not called us to immorality but to holiness.
Scripture for reflection: Luke 23: 33-35: When they came to Skull Place, as it was called, they crucified Him there and the criminals as well, one on His right, and one on His left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing."
Blessed John Paul II tells us: "She did not flee from the voice of the Holy Spirit, from the voice of her conscience. She rather chose death. Through the gift of fortitude the Holy Spirit helped her to 'judge"- and to choose with her young spirit. She chose death when there was no other way to defend her virginal purity. Maria Goretti's blood, shed in a sacrifice of total fidelity to God, reminds us that we are also called to offer ourselves to the Father. We are called to fulfill the divine will in order to be found holy and pleasing in His sight. Our call to holiness, which is the vocation of every baptized person, is encouraged by the example of this young martyr. Look at her especially, adolescents and young people. Like her, be capable of defending your purity of heart and body; be committed to the struggle against evil and sin, nourishing your communion with the Lord through prayer, the daily practice of mortification, and scrupulously observing the commandments. Do not be afraid to take a counter-cultural stance, to reject the world's idols when it is a question of courageously witnessing by your lives that you belong to a chaste and poor Christ. Always esteem and love purity and virginity. In a Homily commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the virgin-martyr's birth
Prayer:  Official Prayer to St. Maria Goretti
Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God's grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity, look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth, with what courage and promptitude we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of  thee (here insert intention), and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. Our Father,   Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
My thoughts: What is "Love's greatest choice"? Is it to resist the sin of impurity because of our love for God? Is it the forgiveness of someone who has maliciously harmed us? Or is it to care in all situations for the salvation of another person's soul? Maria Goretti, in her resistance, feared that the act would send her attacker to hell. On her deathbed, she expressed her desire for him to be in heaven, and in death, she appeared to him to offer him a new life. He accepted, and died a good and holy man. Maria is remembered for her purity, her ability to forgive, and her desire to save a soul. May we, too, pray for the graces of fortitude, forgiveness, and spiritual concern for our neighbor. It is such a beautiful way to live, and die.
St. Maria Goretti, pray for us.
St. Maria Goretti's feast day is July 6.
St. Maria Goretti is the patron saint of youth, young women, purity, and victims of rape.
Recommended website:


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Devotion for today: a man for all seasons

So far, in our preparation for All Saints Day (Nov. 1) we have looked at a Capuchin, a Carmelite, a mother, and today...a lawyer!
St. Thomas More was born at London in 1478. After a thorough grounding in religion and the classics, he entered Oxford to study law. Upon leaving the university he embarked on a legal career which took him to Parliament. In 1505, he married his beloved Jane Colt who bore him four children, and when she died at a young age, he married a widow, Alice Middleton, to be a mother for his young children. A wit and a reformer, this learned man numbered Bishops and scholars among his friends, and by 1516 wrote his world-famous book "Utopia". He attracted the attention of Henry VIII who appointed him to a succession of high posts and missions, and finally made him Lord Chancellor in 1529. However, he resigned in 1532, at the height of his career and reputation, when Henry persisted in holding his own opinions regarding marriage and the supremacy of the Pope. The rest of his life was spent in writing mostly in defense of the Church. In 1534, with his close friend, St. John Fisher, he refused to render allegiance to the King as the Head of the Church of England and was confined to the Tower. Fifteen months later, and nine days after St. John Fisher's execution, he was tried and convicted of treason. He told the court that he could not go against his conscience and wished his judges that "we may yet hereafter in heaven merrily all meet together to everlasting salvation." And on the scaffold, he told the crowd of spectators that he was dying as "the King's good servant-but God's first." He was beheaded on July 6, 1535.

Scripture for meditation: 1 Corinthians 2:12-15
The spirit we have received is not the world's spirit but God's spirit, helping us to recognize the gifts He has given us. We speak of these, not in words of human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, thus interpreting spiritual things in spiritual terms. The natural man does not accept what is taught by the Spirit of God. For him, that is absurdity. He cannot come to know such teaching because it must be appraised in a spiritual way. The spiritual man, on the other hand, can appraise everything, though he himself can be appraised by no one.

Scripture for reflection: Matthew 14: 25, 28-31
At about three in the morning, He came walking toward them on the lake. Peter spoke up and said, "Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you across the water." "Come," He said. So Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water, moving toward Jesus. but when he perceived how strong the wind was, becoming frightened, he began to sink and cried out, "Lord, save me!' Jesus at once stretched out His hand and caught him. "How little faith you have!" He exclaimed. "Why did you faulter?"

St. Thomas More tells us:  I will not mistrust God...though I feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember how Saint Peter, at a blast of wind, began to sink..., and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to Him for help. And then I trust He shall place His holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning. Spiritual Advice from The Saints, Pauline Books

Prayer: Written by St. Thomas More while imprisoned in the Tower of London
Give me the grace, Good Lord: To set the world at naught. To set the mind firmly on You and not to hang upon the words of men's mouths. To be content to be solitary. Not to long for worldly pleasures. Little by little utterly to cast off the world and rid my mind of all its business. Not to long to hear of earthly things, but that the hearing of worldly fancies may be displeasing to me. Gladly to be thinking of God, piteously to call for His help. To lean into the comfort of God. Busily to labor to love Him. To know my own vileness and wretchedness. To humble myself under the mighty hand of God. To bewail my sins and, for the purging of them, patiently to suffer adversity. Gladly to bear my purgatory here. To be joyful in tribulations. To walk the narrow way that leads to life. To have the last thing in remembrance. To have ever before my eyes my death that is ever at hand. To make death no stranger to me. To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of Hell. To pray for pardon before the judge comes. To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me. For His benefits unceasingly to give Him thanks. To buy the time again that I have lost. To abstain from vain conversations. To shun foolish mirth and gladness. To cut off unnecessary recreations. Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss at naught, for the winning of Christ. To think my worst enemies my best friends, for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred. These minds are more to be desired of every man than all the treasures of all the princes and kings, Christian and heathen, were it gathered and laid together all in one heap. Amen.  

My thoughts: We have no better role model in the face of adversity than St. Thomas More. He had what all men desire, and he gave it up to hold fast to his beliefs. He suffered great mental and emotional torment while locked in the Tower of London, yet he never failed to reach for God's hand when he started to sink. Knowing he was misunderstood by everyone, even his own family, he stayed in the truth of the Spirit. An absurdity to man? Yes, he was. God's faithful servant to the end? Yes, indeed. May the same be said for us.

St. Thomas More, patron saint of lawyers, pray for us.
St. Thomas More's feast day is June 22.

Recommended reading:The Four Last Things: A Dialogue on Conscience by Thomas More.
The Sadness of Christ by Thomas More

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Devotion for today: I say a little prayer for you

In preparation for All Saints Day, November 1, we look to a mother who became a saint through persistant prayer.

St. Monica:  St. Monica was married by arrangement to a pagan official in North Africa, who was much older than she, and although generous, was also violent tempered. His mother lived with them and was equally difficult, which proved a constant challenge to St. Monica. She had three children; Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua. Through her patience and prayers, she was able to convert her husband and his mother to the Catholic Faith in 370. He died a year later. Perpetua and Navigius entered the religious Life. St. Augustine was much more difficult, as she had to pray for him for 17 years, begging the prayers of priests who, for a while, tried to avoid her because of her persistence at this seemingly hopeless endeavor. One priest did console her by saying, "it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish." This thought, coupled with a vision that she had received, strengthened her. St. Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose in 387.  St. Monica died later that same year, on the way back to Africa from Rome in the Italian town of Ostia.

Scripture for meditation: Sirach 2:10
Study the generations long past and understand; has anyone hoped in the Lord and been disappointed? Has anyone persevered in His fear and been forsaken? Has anyone called upon Him and been rebuffed?

Scripture for reflection:  Luke 18:1-8
 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: 'In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' 'For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' And the Lord said, 'Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?'

Blessed John XXIII tells us: Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but what is still possible for you to do. Spiritual Advice from the Saints, Paulist Press.

To St. Monica, Patroness of Mothers
Blessed Monica, mother of St. Augustine, we give thanks to our Father in heaven Who looked with mercy upon your tears over your wayward son. His conversion and heroic sanctification were the fruit of your prayers. Dear St. Monica, we now ask you to pray with us for all those sons and daughters that have wandered away from God, and to add your prayers to those of all mothers who are worried over their children. Pray also for us that, following your example, we may, in the company of our children, one day enjoy the eternal vision of our Father in heaven. Amen.
~~ from "Prayers for Today," published by Leaflet Missal Co.
 My thoughts: How many of us can identify with Saint Monica! She dreamed of eternal salvation for her son, but he wanted no part of it. She prayed, cried, gave unheeded advice, followed him around Africa and Italy begging him to change his ways, and he only got worse. She never gave up. She never quit praying, and believing that God would hear her prayers. It looked to the world that she had failed, but she knew that persistence pays off with God. Today her son, Saint Augustine, is known as a saint and a doctor of the Church. May we always trust that God hears out prayers, in His time, not ours.

Saint Monica, patron saint of the verbally abused and of mothers, pray for us.
Saint Monica's feast day is August 27th.

Devotion for today: I will sing

Today we continue looking at saints in preparation for All Saints Day, November 1.

Saint Therese of the Little Flower:  Therese Martin was the last of nine children born to Louis and Zelie Martin on January 2, 1873, in Alencon, France. However, only five of these children lived to reach adulthood. Precocious and sensitive, Therese needed much attention. Her mother died when she was 4 years old. As a result, her father and sisters babied young Therese. She had a spirit that wanted everything.  At the age of 14, on Christmas Eve in 1886, Therese had a conversion that transformed her life. From then on, her powerful energy and sensitive spirit were turned toward love, instead of keeping herself happy. At 15, she entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux to give her whole life to God. She took the religious name Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Living a hidden, simple life of prayer, she was gifted with great intimacy with God. Through sickness and dark nights of doubt and fear, she remained faithful to God, rooted in His merciful love. After a long struggle with tuberculosis, she died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24. Her last words were the story of her life: "My God, I love You!" The world came to know Therese through her autobiography, "Story of a Soul". She described her life as a "little way of spiritual childhood." She lived each day with an unshakable confidence in God's love. "What matters in life," she wrote, "is not great deeds, but great love." Therese lived and taught a spirituality of attending to everyone and everything well and with love. She believed that just as a child becomes enamored with what is before her, we should also have a childlike focus and totally attentive love. Therese's spirituality is of doing the ordinary, with extraordinary love.

Scripture for meditation: Psalm 149:1-4
Sing to the Lord a new song of praise in the assembly of the faithful. Let Israel be glad in their Maker, let the children of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise His name in the festive dance, let them sing praise to Him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord loves His people, and He adorns the lowly with victory.

 Scripture for reflection: Luke 10:21
At that moment, Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said," I offer you praise, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest of children."

St. Therese tells us:  How shall I show my love is proved by deeds? Well - the little child will strew flowers...she will embalm the Divine Throne with their fragrance, will sing with silvery voice the canticle of love. Yes, my Beloved, it is thus that my life's brief day shall be spent before Thee. No other means have I of proving my love than to strew flowers; that is, to let no little sacrifice escape me, not a look, not a word, to avail of the very least actions and do them for Love. I wish to suffer for Love's sake and for Love's sake even to rejoice; thus shall I strew flowers. Not one shall I find without shedding its petals for Thee...and then I will sing, I will always sing, even if I must gather my roses in the very midst of thorns - and the longer and sharper the thorns the sweeter shall be my song.   Story of A Soul, Chapter XI

Prayer:     Novena to St. 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 the favors I now place with confidence
      in your hands.....
      (Mention specific request)
      St. 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.

My thoughts:  St. Therese is famous for saying that she would spend her time in heaven doing good on earth. We picture her holding roses, showering them down upon those who turn to her for intercession. St. Therese is a powerful saint to follow.  Her "Little Way" was to always see the love of God in everyone and everything. She strove not to be great, but to be little, so as to be used by God in whatever way He saw fit. She suffered great disappointments, tremendous physical ailments, and ridicule, yet she sang, she always sang, and her heart was always filled with the song of love for her God. Let us sing, always, through our tears and in our joy, thus making our lives "a new song unto the Lord"!

St. Therese, patron saint of the missions, pray for us.

St. Therese's feast day is October 1

Recommended reading: Story of a Soul
Recommended website:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Devotion for today: Never lose heart

Since All Saints Day is coming on November 1, I decided to spend this week looking at some remarkable saints. 

Saint Pio
Padre Pio was born of simple, hardworking farming people on May 25, 1887 in Pietrelcina, southern Italy. He was tutored privately until his entry into the Capuchin Friars at the age of 15. Of feeble health but strong will, with the help of grace he completed the required studies and was ordained a priest in 1910.  On September 20, 1918, the five wounds of our Lord's passion appeared on his body, making him the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Church. Countless numbers were attracted to his confessional and many more received his saintly and spiritual guidance through correspondence. His whole life was marked by long hours of prayer and continual austerity. His letters to his spiritual directors reveal the ineffable sufferings, physical and spiritual, which accompanied him all through his life. They also reveal his very deep union with God, his burning love for the Blessed Eucharist and our Blessed Lady. Worn out by over half a century of intense suffering and constant apostolic activity in San Giovanni Rotondo, he was called to his heavenly reward on September 23, 1968.  On June 16, 2002 Pope John Paul II declared him saint.  National Center for Padre Pio, Inc.

Scripture for meditation: Matthew 26:39
He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Still, let it be as you would have it, not as I."

Scripture for reflection: Hebrews 5:7-9
In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered; and when perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him, designated by God as high priest according to the order of Melchizedek."

Padre Pio tells us: "No matter how great the trial...never lose heart. Have recourse, with more childlike trust, to Jesus who will never be able to resist bestowing on you some little solace and comfort. Turn to him at all times, even when the devil tries to cast a pall over your life by showing you your sins. Lift up your voice loudly to Jesus and let it express your spiritual humility, your heartfelt contrition, and your vocal prayer." Padre Pio's Words of Hope, Edited by Eileen Dunn Bertanzetti, Our Sunday Visitor.

My thoughts:   I love Padre Pio. He suffered so much in his life, yet he never gave up, never took his eyes off of Christ. He reminds us that God will always give us comfort in our trials, even if they don't go away as we wish. Jesus asked for the cup to be removed. It didn't happen. Ours may not be removed, either, but as Padre Pio did, we must offer up our sufferings and never lose our trust in God. Just as Christ's suffering could not be relieved because it was for a higher purpose, so we, too, must remember that God may be using our suffering for the redemption of other souls, to affect other lives, for a purpose far beyond our understanding. He holds us in the palm of His hand. We need only trust in Him.

Prayer to Padre Pio:
O God, You gave Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, capuchin priest, the great privilege of participating in a unique way in the passion of Your Son. Grant me, through his intercession, the grace of ....which I ardently desire; and above all grant me the grace of living in conformity with the death of Jesus, to arrive at the glory of the resurrection. (3x's Glory Be to the Father...) Nulla osta. Manfredonia, 2/26/02

Padre Pio's feast day is September 23.
Recommended reading: Padre Pio: The True Story by C. Bernard Ruffin, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division.