Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Three Virtues Dearest to the Blessed Virgin Mary

One year for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Sister Faustina wanted to honor our blessed mother and so she made a novena of 9000 Hail Marys. She prayed 1000 Hail Marys per day for nine days.  She didn't let it interfere with her other devotions or with Holy Mass.  She did no say any unnecessary words during the novena.  "Although I must admit that such a matter requires a good deal of attention and effort, nothing is too much when it comes to honoring the Immaculate Virgin.

On the solemnity the blessed mother, inconceivably beautiful as described to Sister Faustina, appeared to the saint and said the following to her:
I desire, My dearly beloved daughter, that you practice the three virtues that are dearest to me- and most pleasing to God. The first is humility, humility, and once again humility; the second virtue, purity; the third virtue, love of God....
#1413 and #1415 of the Diary

Today is Saturday, the day we honor our Lady.  Let us try very hard to imitate the virtues that are dear to her.  Let us with all our hearts try to be humble, pure of heart and to love God with all our might.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Sweet Saint Joseph!

Words cannot describe how I feel about Saint Joseph, the chaste husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

Over the years, I have come to rely on him for everything.  Upon rising in the early morning I immediately greet the Blessed Mother with a good morning, followed by Jesus, Saint Joseph and all angels and saints.

There is a statue of Saint Joseph in the parking lot area of the church.  Upon arriving, I quickly acknowledge him and tell him I love him.  Then upon entering the church and spending a few quiet minutes with Jesus in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I make the Way of the Cross.  I then pause in front of St. Joseph the Worker's statue to give him a long litany of petitions.  I ask him to intercede for:

- the men in may family named after him
- the dying
- the homeless
- the unemployed
- husbands
- my entire family's new home and their existing homes protection
- helping me to imitate his silence and all his virtues
- protection of the Church and the persecuted Christians
- my marriage

I also share with him my frustrations at failing to conquer my faults.

I think of him constantly, asking for his intercession as much as I "bother" the blessed mother. I know they don't mind.  I think that perhaps they like to help, the most flawed, selfish, ill-tempered, impatient, easily annoyed of all of God's creatures.

I don't think I have a right to ask for heavenly assistance that often, and very rarely do I ask for help for myself (except for that of improving myself and getting rid of the flaws that plague me and keep me from becoming holy).  But I do trust in God.  I do trust that the angels and saints are here to help us.  I especially trust that the Holy Family..Jesus, Mary and Joseph, will not fail to come to my assistance, no matter how many times I ask for their help and assistance.  I know this because they love me as they do all their other children.  They know we are not perfect but will help us reach perfection if we only ask and rely on them.  I especially believe that of St. Joseph, ever silent and righteous.  He was the perfect father and family man.

St. Joseph, dear foster father of Jesus,
beloved earthly husband of our Lady,
pray for all families, especially the fathers, the head of their families, 
to trust in God, to follow your example in loving, protecting, caring and providing for their families.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Authentic St. Patrick

Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

            What do we really know about St. Patrick?  His background is shrouded in mystery.  What we have heard often mingles myth with reality.  To separate fact from fiction we need a closer look.  We need to ask the real St. Patrick to please stand up.

            In the fifth century A.D. an adolescent boy in Britain was kidnapped and enslaved by marauders from a nearby country.  The youngster they captured eventually eluded his captors in Ireland, but several years later returned as a priest with the conviction that God had chosen him to convert that country to Christianity.  That young Briton named Patricius died an Irishman named Patrick.  Ireland and Christianity have not been the same since.  Meet the authentic St. Patrick.

Fact over Myth

            His life was clouded by legend, but peeling away the myth we discover that what is factually known about St. Patrick is far more interesting.  He never chased the snakes out of Ireland, nor do we have any certainty that he used the shamrock to teach the Trinity to his converts.

            History possesses no written records about Britain or Ireland from the fifth century except those few about Patrick.  Quite simply Ireland had no written records prior to Patrick.

            The sequence of his life is not clear, and historians cannot identify when he was born, ordained a bishop, or died.   But scholars agree that the two extant examples of his writing are clearly the work of the same man we today call Patrick.

The two brief compositions of Patrick, his Confession and his Letter to Coroticus, are the sources of all we know for certain about the historical Patrick.

            The Confession, not really a biography, recounts his call to convert the Irish and aims to justify his mission to an unsympathetic people in Britain.

            The Letter to Coroticus, an Irish warlord whom Patrick excommunicated, illustrates his power as a preacher, but yields little biographical information.

His Life

            In a nutshell these are the biographical facts.  Patrick was born Patricius in Roman Britain to a Christian family of some wealth.  He was not religious in his youth, and claims he was close to renouncing his family’s faith.  Kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave for a warlord, he worked as a shepherd for six years and then escaped.  At home he began studies for the priesthood with the intent to return as a missionary to his former captors. Clearly he had committed his life to Ireland until death.  By the time he had written the Confession, Patrick was recognized as bishop of Ireland by both the natives of Ireland and by Church authorities on the continent.

His Character

            Two traits are patently evident in Patrick’s Confession: his humility and his strength.  These characteristics are missing in early biographies and in the legends.

            The missionary Patrick who returned to Ireland was a strong and vigorous personality.  He was tough and determined.  He had to be to pursue the vision that launched him in the evangelization of the pagan island.  He was not the least bit reluctant to undertake this mission despite the fact that in 400 years no one had taken the Gospel beyond the bounds of Roman civilization.  As each obstacle was encountered, Patrick mustered the strength to overcome it. 

            With limited education -- he was chiefly self-educated -- but with the grace of the experience of his enslaved exile, Patrick determined to do what no other had done in the previous four centuries of Christian history.  He decided to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth, and he planned wisely a way to do it.  Unaided he figured out how to carry Christian values to the barbarians who practiced human sacrifice, who constantly warred with each other, and who were noted slave traders.  That was neither simple nor easy to attempt.  Most likely he hazarded this challenge of evangelization never before undertaken by the missionaries of the Greco-Roman world because the Christians of the continent did not consider barbarians to be human.

            Patrick’s years as a slave had uniquely molded his attitude to mount a heroic effort to reach the minds and hearts of these untamed people.  Patrick detested slavery, and may have been the first Christian leader to speak out unequivocally against it.  The Church did not formally condemn slavery as immoral until the late nineteenth century.  Patrick had experienced this