Friday, August 05, 2011

First Friday - Sacred Heart of Jesus

This beautiful stained glass image of The Sacred Heart of Jesus and Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque can be found at Sacred Heart Church, Honolulu. 

Please be sure to visit EWTN's page learn more about devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

How to be a good confessor, the example of St. John Vianney

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"...Much has been said and much is known of how this holy priest spent untold hours (even to sixteen and more hours a day) in the confessional. That he could “read souls” is well attested by testimony even from before his death. It has even been related that the evil one once cried out, 'If there were two priests like John Vianney, my kingdom on earth would crumble!'..."

On this Feast of St. John Vianney, Fr. Ryan has a really good post for priests:

New Theological Movement: For Priests - How to be a Good Confessor

Feast of St. Jean Marie Vianney

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"Saint John Vianney, when asked how long he had loved Mary replied "I loved her almost before I could know her."

O thou most holy virgin Mary,
who dost evermore stand before the most holy Trinity,
and to whom it is granted at all times to pray for us to thy most beloved Son;
pray for me in all my necessities;
help me, combat for me, and obtain for me the pardon of all my sins.
Help me especially at my last hour;
and when I can no longer give any sign of the use of reason,
then do thou encourage me, make the sign of the cross for me,
and fight for me against the enemy.
Make in my name a profession of faith;
favor me with a testimony of my salvation,
and never let me despair of the mercy of God.
Help me to overthrow the wicked enemy. When I can no longer say: 'Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I place my soul in your hands,' do thou say it for me;
when I can no longer hear human words of consolation, do thou comfort me.
Leave me not before I have been judged;
and if I have to expiate my sins in purgatory, oh! pray for me earnestly;
and admonish my friends to procure for me a speedy enjoyment of the blessed sight of God.
Lessen my sufferings, deliver me speedily,
and lead my soul into heaven with thee: that, united with all the elect,
I may there bless and praise my God and thee for all eternity. Amen.

- Saint John Vianney

The Prayer Book, The Catholic Press, Inc.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Spiritual Lessons: Priests in Prison

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I just finished reading Father Gordon MacRae's recent post. It involves a recurring dream he has and a priest who was his good friend. I found it very powerful

These Stone Walls: Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

Father Sean Coyle wrote a wonderful post about another priest in prison, one who was imprisoned for his faith, François-Xavier Cardinal Nguyên Van Thuán.

Association of Catholic Women Bloggers: Preaching Hope from Prison: François-Xavier Cardinal Nguyên Van Thuán

Both priests were falsely imprisoned. Both priests are/were imprisoned for a very long time. Both priests never gave up hope.  Both priests showed the power of forgiveness at work.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Need for Spiritual Direction

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke on the importance of everyone having a spiritual director. See: Zenit's Pope Recommends Spiritual Direction for Everyone

I am very happy to see that Pope Benedict stressed the importance of spiritual direction. This idea is not a new one for me. I have been trying for years to find the right spiritual director. A few priests that I approached simply told me that they were too busy. I respected that. One dear priest accepted my request to become my regular confessor.  Back then I thought a spiritual director and regular confessor would be the same person.   This is not so.  Unfortunately, he did not work out.  I was looking for someone to guide me to a more holy life in my vocation as a wife and mother. What I received was reassurance from a very kind and non-judgmental priest that I was doing fine . Before you know it, I stopped making appointments. Maybe  if I had known the difference between a regular confessor and a spiritual director, it would have worked out.  I may have been looking for another Padre Pio and this was not at all fair to Father as either a confessor or spiritual director.

I realize that a spiritual director does not have to be a priest. For me at least, I think a priest's spiritual direction would benefit me very much.  Informally, I receive spiritual direction from my mother.  I really value her guidance and wisdom.  She also seems to know me very well, including my faults and weaknesses, as well as strengths and virtues.  But I still wanted a priest to guide me.

A few years back, I decided that I was going to ask St. Padre Pio to be my spiritual director. Even though he was no longer on earth, I had already asked him to accept me as his spiritual daughter, so I thought this was divine inspiration guiding me.  He is actually a very good spiritual director.  Along with St. Padre Pio I rely heavily on Blessed Mother, the Holy Spirit and Jesus to help me and to guide me. 

I found an article by a priest on the topic of spiritual direction.  He also included what to do if you cannot find a spiritual director.  New Theological Movement's When You Cannot Find a Spiritual Director The writer shares valuable advice. Please be sure to read it if you are looking for spiritual direction.

What if I cannot find a suitable spiritual director?

We must first state that it would seem to be better to have no director at all than to have an unsuitable one – so long as the terms of “unsuitability” are primarily those which have been enumerated in my previous article and are not merely our whimsical fancies. It would be better to have no director at all than to have one who is unfaithful to the Church’s spiritual tradition – Far better to struggle alone up the mountain, than to be dragged down into hell with a companion! On the other hand, we must be realistic and recognize that our director does not need to be another St. John of the Cross, we simply need someone who is learned, faithful, and prayerful (and who is willing to take us on as a directee).

That being said, it is often the case that no suitable director is available. Often, the director we might desire is exceedingly busy – in this case, we must add, it never hurts to ask if he can take us on anyways. Moreover, I would add that any good director will be busy, but he will also have a generous heart. Also, there may be a place for direction through written letters or even over the phone – remember that St. Gemma often had her guardian angel deliver letters back and forth between her and her director!

If we cannot find a director, and we are convinced that we need one, we must first turn to prayer and mortification. Through prayer, fasting, mortification, and works of charity, we will merit a good director! Perseverance is the key, we must not stop asking God to give us a good director; he will surely answer our prayers. But what ought we to do in the meantime?

St. Alphonsus (one of the greatest doctors of the spiritual life) recommends the following daily practices:
1) Short prayers immediately upon rising
2) ½ hour’s meditation each day (or at least 15 minutes)
3) 15 minutes of spiritual reading each day
4) A daily examination of conscience (particularly considering the quality of our prayer)
5) To make a confession and take Holy Communion at least once per week
6) Avoid the near occasions of sin and bad company
7) Entrust yourself to the Blessed Virgin Mary
8) Pray to Our Savior to obtain his Holy Love
9) Daily ask for the grace of final perseverance (i.e. the gift of salvation)

Feast of Our Lady of the Angels - Portiuncula Indulgence

"Vision of St. Francis of Assisi" by Vincente Carducho

Today is a big feast day for the Franciscans. It is the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels. It is also the day when we all can receive plenary indulgence also known as the "Portiuncula Indulgence".

(for oneself or for a departed soul)

- Sacramental Confession to be in God's grace
(during the eight days before or after);
- Participation in the Holy Mass and Eucharist.
- Visit to a Catholic Church, followed by PROFESSION OF FAITH, in order to reaffirm one's own Christian identity;
- Say the OUR FATHER, in order to reaffirm the dignity as child of God that one received in Baptism;
- A prayer for the Pope's intention, in order to reaffirm one's membership in the Church, of which the Roman Pontiff is the foundation and sign of visible unity.

To learn more about the Portiuncula Indulgence, please visit the Franciscan Friars T.O.R.

And, a big mahalo to Betty sending me a reminder yesterday!

Monday, August 01, 2011

St. Alphonsus di Liguori

The founder of the Redemptorists just happens to be one of my favorite saints.

I have had crosses in plenty-more than I could carry, almost. I set myself to ask for the love of crosses-then I was happy.

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St. Alphonsus Liguori came from a distinguished family in Naples. He gave up being an accomplished lawyer, for the priesthood. In 1732, he founded what is now known as the Redemptorists. Because of many difficulties and misapprehensions, St. Alphonsus was condemned and removed as their leader by Pope Pius VI. He was appointed bishop in 1762 and governed the small diocese of Sant' Agata dei Goti with "great wisdom and industry" until forced to resign in 1775, due to poor health. The difficulties with the Redemptorists became even more troubling to him after this time. Yet St. Alphonsus found the time to devote himself to ascetical and moral theology. It was during the last year and a half of his life that he was tormented "with the most fierce spiritual trials, but he died in peace in 17687, within two months of his ninety-first birthday. He was declared a doctor of the Church in 1871.

- Source A Dictionary of Saints by Donald Attwater

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The greatest glory we can give to God is to do his will in everything. Our Redeemer came on earth to glorify his heavenly Father and to teach us by his example how to do the same. St. Paul represents him saying to his eternal Father: “Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not: But a body thou hast fitted to me . . . Then said I: Behold I come to do thy will, O God[5].” Thou hast refused the victims offered thee by man; thou dost will that I sacrifice my body to thee. Behold me ready to do thy will.

Uniformity with God's Will