Saturday, July 06, 2013

Saint Maria Goretti

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Today the Church honors a very young saint.  She gave her life in order to protect her chastity.  The following was written by Pope Pius XII on Saint Maria Goretti.

"Our Saint was a valiant girl.  She knew, she understood, and that is why she preferred to die.  Her twelfth year was not completed when she fell martyred.  Yet, what discernment, what prudence, what energy she displayed!  Though but a girl, conscious of danger, she watched night and day in defense of her honor, and in persevering prayer recommended the lily of her purity to the Virgin of virgins.  No!  Hers was not a small, weak soul.  She is a heroine who in the clutch of a murderer and under the knife of an assassin thought not of her suffering but resolutely repelled sin with horror...

"Thus the cry of our Savior rises to our lips:  'Woe to the world because of scandals!' (Matt. 18-7).  Woe to those guilty perverters-authors of corrupt novels, newspapers, periodicals, theaters, films, indecent styles!  Woe to those young men who, with artful and thoughtless cruelty, introduce deadly infection into a virgin heart!  Woe to those fathers and mothers lacking in energy and prudence, who cede to the caprices of their children and surrender that paternal authority written on the brow of man and wife as a reelection of the divine Majesty.  Woe also to that multitude of Christians in name only, who could take a stand and would see legions of upright and virtuous followers mass behind them ready to battle scandal by every means!  Legal justice punishes the slayer of a child, and it has duty to do so.  But what human legislation could or would dare, if it chose to do so, punish those who furnished the weapon to the slayer's hand, those who encouraged him therein, or were indifferent, or even with indulgent smile left him be?  And yet they are really the more guilty.  The terrible justice of God weighs heavily o them, those willful perverters or indolent accomplices!"
The following is what Alexander, Maria's murderer wrote on the floor of his cell after Maria appeared to him.

"I am deeply sorry for what has happened.  I have taken the life of an innocent girl whose one aim was to save her purity, shedding her blood rather than give in to my sinful desires.  I publicly retract the evil I have done and beg pardon of God and of the stricken family.  One hope encourages me-- that I also may one day
obtain God's pardon as so many others have."
Alexander Serenelli, November 10, 1910

From In Garments All Red:  The Life Story of St. Maria Goretti, by Godfrey Poage, C.P.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Pope Francis Approves Sainthood Cause For Predecessors


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 Such wonderful news on this First Friday in July!!!

Pope Francis this morning received Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, where he approved the cause of several blesseds and venerables, most notably, Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII. 

 The Zenit article can be read HERE

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Fourth of July

You can read the United States Constitution HERE.

Prayer on Independence Day

Heavenly Father,
like the Israelites of old,
our ancestors in the faith,
our country has struggled long and hard to be free,
and to keep its freedom as a nation.
It too has met with success and failure
in trying to achieve its goals.
Let me take this holiday celebration
to ponder the strengths and weaknesses of my country.
Make me resolve always to do my part to keep it strong
and strive constantly to eliminate its weaknesses:
in the social, political, economic, and religious field.

Teach me to meditate on the teachings of your Son
who brought us a message of peace and freedom
and instructed us to live as brothers and sisters.
His message took form in the vision of our founders
as they fashioned a nation 
where people might live as one.
May this message live on in our midst
as a task for people today
and a promise for tomorrow.
Thank You for Your past blessings
and for all that, with Your help, we will achieve.


New Saint Joseph People's Prayer Book

Monday, July 01, 2013


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“I want to be a missionary.”

Brother John Samaha, S.M.

          During this Year of Faith we will mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Junipero Serra on  November 24.  Blessed Junipero Serra (1713-1784), the first apostle and colonizer of Alta California was a model evangelizer and is a benchmark for the missionary spirit for spreading and renewing the faith in the Year of Faith we are now celebrating.  The church celebrates his feast on July 1.

          A native of Petra on the Spanish island of Majorca and baptized Miguel Jose, he followed in the footsteps of his early educators, the Franciscans, and took the name of Junipero, who was a disciple of St. Francis himself.  After a decade of service as a noted preacher and professor of philosophy, he rekindled his early desire to be a missionary and requested to be sent to Mexico in the new World.  In 1749 at the age of 36 he wrote a formal petition to his provincial superior: “All my life I have wanted to be a missionary.  I have wanted to carry the Gospel teachings to those who have never heard of God and the kingdom he has prepared for them.” 

          Fray Junipero was missioned to the New World in Mexico, where he served the native populations for twenty years.  When Spain decided to complete the occupation of California, he and other specially trained Franciscan missionaries accompanied the military and the colonists.  During the ensuing fifteen years in Alta California, he founded the first nine of the twenty-one missions.  In this period Serra was compelled to confront the military and civil authorities concerning the mistreatment of the Native Americans.  He drafted a statement of thirty-two grievances which he personally presented to the Viceroy in Mexico.  Some of his recommended improvements were implemented and some were overlooked.

          Though afflicted with an ulcerated leg wound, Padre Serra frequently visited his missions, often walking rather than riding horseback because St. Francis al Assisi had always walked.  Records show that he baptized and confirmed thousands of natives without neglecting the colonists and the soldiers.  He was beloved by all.  While concentrating on the spiritual needs of the neophytes and catechumens, he and his collaborators did not forget their material welfare.  The natives were taught methods of farming, cattle raising, along with arts and crafts.  The native peoples were educated to shift from an unsettled lifestyle to a stable domestic way of life.  Serra’s extensive written reports filed with government and religious authorities reveal a saintly man who loved and served his people as an adept teacher, organizer and manager.

          Although some Spaniards were guilty of abusive treatment, Padre Serra had never been guilty of mistreatment.  On the contrary, he defended them from harm.   In 1784 Father Serra died at Mission San Carlos Borromeo, and later he was buried in the sanctuary of its church. When Pope John Paul II beatified Junipero Serra on September 25, 1988, he praised the Apostle of California as “an exemplary model of the selfless evangelizer, a shining example of Christian virtue and the missionary spirit.”  These are the traits we are challenged to exhibit in this Year of Faith.

          A statue of Junipero Serra represents California in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.  Imposing statues of the colonizer of California also grace Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and are also prominently placed in many other cities throughout the state.  His name has been adopted by the international lay organization of men and women known as the Serra Club, which is dedicated to fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life. 

          Blessed Junipero Serra witnessed to the holiness of the Church and its concern for all people.  As an extraordinary missionary and an exceptional example of the Church’s apostolic calling to preach and exemplify the Gospel to everyone, he personifies the spirit of the new evangelization that characterizes the current Year of Faith.



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by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

        A man of conspicuous ability and virtue, Blessed Junípero Serra (1713-1784) is heralded as “the Apostle of California” by both church and secular historians.  In addition to his extraordinary holiness and zeal, non-Catholic writers especially have noted his remarkable administrative talents.  Ample testimony in word and in art indicate the high esteem in which his memory is held by all classes and ages in California.  Non-Catholic Jane Stanford (co-founder with her husband, Leland, of Stanford University) had a granite monument erected to Serra in Monterey.  A bronze statue of heroic proportion depicts him as missionary and colonizer in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.  The figure of this intrepid Franciscan represents the State of California in Statuary Hall of our Nation’s Capitol.  In 1988, the Marian Year, Pope John Paul II beatified Fray Junípero Serra.

        Junípero Serra was a competent writer and record-keeper.  Fortunately many of his letters and documents are extant.  His best known writings are the Diario of the journey from Loreto (Mexico) to San Diego (California), and the thirty-two article Representación presented to Viceroy Bucareli requesting better administrative conditions.

A Prolific and Consequential Writer

        Historians of California have always regarded the writings of Fray Junípero Serra “as indispensable for an understanding of men and events in the Hispanic era.”  Known for his tireless attention to detail and to the functions of his office as President of the Missions, Serra once lamented that “half my life is passed at a writing desk.”

        Between 1955 and 1966 four volumes of Serra’s writings were gathered and translated into English under the editorial guidance of Father Antonine Tibesar, O.F.M., then published by the Academy of American Franciscan History.  The contents comprise a wide range of letters, reports, memoranda, register entries, and related information.

A Rare Find
        But there was one fascinating item that had eluded historians, editors and translators:  Fray Junípero’s Novena de Alabanzas en Honrra de la Purissima Concepción de Maria Ssma. con el Titulo de Prelada (Novena of Prayers in Honor of the Most Pure Conception of Holy Mary under Her Title of Queen).  This is a small book containing prayers honoring Our Lady under the title of her Immaculate Conception.  This Marian novena had long been attributed to Serra by bibliographic experts.  Eventually evidence of authorship was forthcoming, and this background is quite interesting.

        In March 1943 Father Demetrio Garcia, a Spanish-born priest who worked in Mexico for many years, offered an incomplete copy of the Novena to Father Maynard Geiger, O.F.M., for the archives at Santa Barbara Mission.  The forty-five page Novena booklet had been printed at Mexico City by Don Xavier Sanchez in 1765, when Fray Junípero was 52 years of age.  According to the statement on the title page, this was the work of “the faltering tongue of a humble subject of the Apostolic College of San Fernando offered to Mary’s clients.”  In that era religious humility prevented the mention of an author’s proper name on a religious publication. The testimony of Mexico’s two leading bibliographers supported Father Garcia’s claim that the Novena was authored by Fray Junípero Serra.

        Jose Mariano Beristáin y Souza (1756-1817), a recognized scholar of that time, credits Fray Junípero Serra with a work described as La Prelada de S. Fernando; Novena a la Concepción Inmaculada de Maria , distribuida por las nueve Letras de Ave Pulcra, printed at Mexico City in 1765.  Beristáin was a competent bibliographer, a contemporary of Serra.  He would have had first-hand
evidence about the booklet’s authorship. The first edition of Beristáin’s monumental Biblioteca Hispano Americana Setentrional was published in 1796.

        Another top bibliographer, José Toribio Medina, who published at Santiago de Chile in 1907 La Imprenta de Mexico (1539-1821), also attributes the Novena to Junípero Serra.

        A second edition of the Novena was published in 1770 by Felipe de Zuñiga y Ontiveros at Mexico City by the same press that later printed Fray Francisco Palou’s Relación Historica de la Vida y Apostolicas Tareas del Venerable Padre Fray Junípero Serra.  Medina reports only two extant copies of the 1770 edition, his own and another belonging to Vicente de P. Andrade, also a recognized collector and bibliographer.  Medina noted that his personal copy had an engraved portrait of the Virgin Mary not found in the other copy.

        The composition style of the Novena lends credence to the assumption that it comes from the hand of Fray Junípero Serra, making it the only one of the friar’s writings published during his lifetime. 

        Novenas, special prayers for nine successive days, were a popular form of devotion in the New World as well as in the Old World in the eighteenth century and after.  This Marian novena attributed to Fray Junípero Serra is exceedingly well constructed and devout in content.  Most likely it was compiled in the years when Serra moved about central Mexico and the Sierra Gorda conducting missions and preaching retreats. 

Focus on the Immaculate Conception

     The Franciscans were always staunch defenders of Mary’s Immaculate
Conception, especially after their distinguished confrere, Blessed John Duns Scotus (1266-1308), provided the definitive theological explanation of that Marian privilege.  A loyal adherent to Scotism and the Subtle Doctor (as Blessed John
Duns Scotus was known), Serra was an ardent promoter of devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Conception. 

Throughout his life Serra exhibited a profound devotion to Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception.  He was an unabashed client of the Virgin Mary, and his love for her did not diminish as he grew older, as evidenced in his many writings.  Incidentally, in his very last letter dated August 6, 1784, Fray Junípero Serra concluded with a reference to our Blessed Mother using the title he gives her in his Novena -- Prelada (Queen).

An English Edition
In 1971 Monsignor Francis J. Weber, archivist and historian of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, obtained a copy of the incomplete Novena from the archives of Mission Santa Barbara.  Later Dr. Michael Mathes was able to locate the Medina copy in the Biblioteca Nacional de Chile in Santiago, and had a copy made of that fragment for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles archives.  Finally in 1988, 223 years after the original publication, the two incomplete copies complemented each other and gave California for the first time a copy of the entire booklet, albeit a photocopy.   During that Marian Year of 1988 proclaimed by Pope John Paul II, Monsignor Weber accepted an English translation and edited the complete text into A Marian Novena Attributed to Fray Junípero Serra, which was published as a hardcover booklet of 35- plus pages under the auspices of the Archives of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in a special limited edition of 350 copies.  This was a significant gesture for the beatification of Junipero Serra by John Paul II in that same year of 1988.

The contents of Blessed Junípero’s Marian novena include an introduction, an act of contrition, a prayer for every day, a special prayer for each of the nine days of the novena, a prayer after each day’s prayer, a final prayer, and a consecration prayer for Marian feast days to be dated and signed.  The work is a masterpiece of sound doctrine and devotion.

Fray Junípero Serra’s Marian novena is a tribute to his ability and holiness.


§  Note to editor:

The following two items are intended to be sidebars to complement this article, if the editor finds them useful.



        This brief final prayer of the Novena offers a taste of the flavor of the longer prayers composed for each of the nine days.

        “Most holy and immaculate Mary, since Almighty God has preserved you from all stain of sin, in order that you might be a worthy Mother for your only Son, who took on human flesh and became man in your womb, I beseech you, most pure and blessed of all women, to obtain for me complete pardon of all my sins so that I may merit in this life the eternity which I seek.  This I ask through your Son who lives and reigns through all ages, world without end.  Amen.”


        This excerpt from Fray Junípero Serra’s  “Introduction” gives some orientation to the style and content of his Novena.

        “Since the human heart is drawn toward the object of its affection, it is good and appropriate for us to grow in the knowledge and love of such an object.  For this reason, I do not hesitate to express the causes and motives underlying my love for Our Lady. . . .
        “Let us then hail her with the greatest confidence in this novena.  Let the sick seek health, let the poor find relief, let the sad be consoled, and let the pregnant bring forth children.  Be assured that every prayer directed to the Immaculate Conception will be answered. May we confide all our needs to Our Lady, especially seek her help at the moment of death to reach out for eternal glory. . . .

        “Each day then, these words [of our theme, Ave Pulchra] will sustain us as we pray.  And since words without deeds avail little, we should prepare to confess our sins and receive the Holy Eucharist, as the priest in charge will suggest.  Hopefully those making this novena will also give alms and engage in penitential works in accordance with the directives of their spiritual advisers.  This they will do for the glory of the Holy Trinity, whose beautiful daughter, mother, and spouse is our Holy Mother Mary.  Amen.”