Category Archives: March

Mar 25 – Handmaid of the Lord


-“Annunciation” by El Greco, c. 1590–1603, Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki, Japan

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Mary, you who called yourself the handmaid of the Lord, teach me how to consecrate all my strength and life to His service.

MEDITATION

All the splendors—divine filiation, participation in divine life, intimate relations with the Trinity—which grace produces in our souls are realized in Mary with a prominence, a force, a realism, wholly singular. If, for example, every soul in the state of grace is an adopted child of God and a temple of the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin is so, par excellence and in the most complete manner, because the Triune God communicated Himself to her in the highest degree possible for a simple creature, to such a degree that Mary’s dignity, according to St. Thomas, touches “the threshold of the infinite” (cf. Summa Theologica Ia, q. 25, a. 6, ad 4). This can easily be understood when we think that, from all eternity, Mary was chosen by God to be the Mother of His Son. As the Incarnation of the Word was the first work of the mind of God, in view of which everything was created, so also Mary, who was to have such a great part in this work, was foreseen and chosen by God before all other creatures. It is fitting that the words of Sacred Scripture are applied to her: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything from the beginning” (Proverbs 8:22).

When Adam, deprived of the state of grace, was driven out of Paradise, only one ray of hope illumined the darkness of fallen humanity: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman,” God said to the serpent, “and … she shall crush thy head” (Genesis 3:15). Here Mary appears on the horizon as the beloved Daughter of God, as she who will never be, for a single moment, a slave of the devil; as she who will always be spotless and immaculate, belonging wholly to God: as the Daughter whom the Most High will always look upon with sovereign complacency, and whom He will introduce into the circle of His divine Family by bonds of the closest intimacy with each of the three divine Persons: Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Incarnate Word, and Spouse of the Holy Spirit.

COLLOQUY

O Mary, all pure and all holy, Paradise of God, His beloved Daughter, chosen by Him from all eternity to be the Mother of His only Son, preserved by Him from every shadow of sin, enriched by Him with all graces … how great and how beautiful you are, O Mary! “You are all beautiful, O Mary, and there is no stain of sin in you. You are the glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel, the honor of our people” (Tota Pulchra).

The Most High has always looked upon you with complacency and He willed to give Himself to you in a unique way. “The Lord is with you, O Mary! God the Father is with you, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, the Triune and One God. God the Father, whose noble Daughter you are; God the Son, whose most worthy Mother you are; God the Holy Spirit, whose gracious Spouse you are. You are truly the Daughter of the sovereign, eternal God, the Mother of sovereign Truth, the Spouse of sovereign Goodness, the handmaid of the sovereign Trinity” (cf. Conrad of Saxony). But from all these titles, you choose the last, the humblest, and the lowest, and call yourself the handmaid of the Lord.

“Oh! how sublime is your humility, which never yields to the seductions of glory, and in glory knows no pride. You were chosen to become the Mother of God, and you call yourself servant! O Blessed Lady, how were you able to unite in your heart such a humble idea of yourself, with so much purity and innocence, and especially such plenitude of grace? O Blessed Lady, whence comes such humility? Truly, because of this virtue, you have merited to be looked upon by God with extraordinary love; and you have merited to charm the King with your beauty, and to draw the eternal Son from the bosom of the Father” (cf. St. Bernard).

O Mary, you proclaimed yourself to be the handmaid of the Lord, and you have truly lived as such, always humbly submissive to His will, always ready to respond to His call and invitation. Who more than you could say with Jesus: “My meat is to do the will of My Father” (cf. John 4:34)? O Mary, sweet Daughter of the heavenly Father, impress upon my heart a little of your docility, a little of your love for God’s holy will, in order that I may serve Him less unworthily.”

Love,
Matthew

Mar 19 – Prayer to St Joseph

“Would that I could persuade all men to be devout to this glorious saint,” wrote St. Teresa of Avila in her autobiography, “for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God.”

“Men of every rank and country should fly to the trust and guard of the blessed Joseph,” especially fathers of families, Pope Leo XIII wrote in his encyclical on devotion to St. Joseph, Quamquam pluries.

Pope Benedict XVI especially encouraged married couples and parents to turn to St. Joseph, saying: “God alone could grant Joseph the strength to trust the Angel. God alone will give you, dear married couples, the strength to raise your family as he wants. Ask it of him! God loves to be asked for what He wishes to give. Ask Him for the grace of a true and ever more faithful love patterned after His own. As the Psalm magnificently puts it: His ‘love is established for ever, His loyalty will stand as long as the heavens’ (Ps 88:3).

“Ever blessed and glorious Joseph, kind and loving father, and helpful friend of all in sorrow! You are the good father and protector of orphans, the defender of the defenseless, the patron of those in need and sorrow.

Look kindly on my request. My sins have drawn down on me the just displeasure of my God, and so I am surrounded with unhappiness. To you, loving guardian of the Family of Nazareth, do I go for help and protection. Listen, then, I beg you, with fatherly concern, to my earnest prayers, and obtain for me the favors I ask.

I ask it by the infinite mercy of the eternal Son of God, which moved Him to take our nature and to be born into this world of sorrow.

I ask it by the weariness and suffering you endured when you found no shelter at the inn of Bethlehem for the Holy Virgin, nor a house where the Son of God could be born. Then, being everywhere refused, you had to allow the Queen of Heaven to give birth to the world’s Redeemer in a cave.

I ask it by the loveliness and power of that sacred Name, Jesus, which you conferred on the adorable Infant.

I ask it by the painful torture you felt at the prophecy of holy Simeon, which declared the Child Jesus and His holy Mother future victims of our sins and of their great love for us.

I ask it through your sorrow and pain of soul when the angel declared to you that the life of the Child Jesus was sought by His enemies. From their evil plan, you had to flee with Him and His Blessed Mother to Egypt.

I ask it by all the suffering, weariness, and labors of that long and dangerous journey.

I ask it by all your care to protect the Sacred Child and His Immaculate Mother during your second journey, when you were ordered to return to your own country.

I ask it by your peaceful life in Nazareth where you met with so many joys and sorrows. I ask it by your great distress when the adorable Child was lost to you and His mother for three days.

I ask it by your joy at finding Him in the temple, and by the comfort you found at Nazareth, while living in the company of the Child Jesus.

I ask it by the wonderful submission He showed in His obedience to you.

I ask it by the perfect love and conformity you showed in accepting the Divine order to depart from this life, and from the company of Jesus and Mary.

I ask it by the joy which filled your soul, when the Redeemer of the world, triumphant over death and hell, entered into the possession of His kingdom and led you into it with special honors.

I ask it through Mary’s glorious Assumption, and through that endless happiness you have with her in the presence of God. O good father! I beg you, by all your sufferings, sorrows, and joys, to hear me and obtain for me what I ask.

(Here name your petitions or think of them.)

Obtain for all those who have asked my prayers everything that is useful to them in the plan of God. Finally, my dear patron and father, be with me and all who are dear to me in our last moments, that we may eternally sing the praises of: JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH. “A blameless life, St. Joseph, may we lead, by your kind patronage from danger freed.”

My special patron, hear me!!

Love,
Matthew

Mar 17 – St Patrick’s Slavery (5th century AD), from slavery to slavery


-by Br Irenaeus Dunlevy, OP

Similar to the Irish people, St. Patrick moved from slavery to slavery. Looking at the life of today’s celebrated saint, we see three modes of slavery which are emblematic of the people he helped save. St. Patrick and his flock have been slaves to humans, sin, and Christ. The life of Patrick shows us the healing and freeing power of grace which removed the yoke of man and sin and replaced them with the sweet yoke of Christ.

The opening words of St. Patrick’s most famous work, Confessio, read:

“I, Patrick, a sinner, very rustic, and the least of all the faithful, and very contemptible in the estimation of most men, had as father a certain man called Calpornius…who was in the town Bannaventa Berniae…where I conceded capture.”

St. Patrick was the son of a deacon and grandson of a priest—priestly celibacy wasn’t unanimous in the 4th century. Despite his family’s religion, Patrick accused himself of ignorance of God and of committing some grave sin which he never named. He blamed himself for his eventual capture and enslavement as he was shipped off to Ireland. As a slave, Patrick became a figure of solidarity for the Irish people, because the Irish have often suffered human oppression.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, many Irish entered into indentured servitude in order to find passage to America. One should not equate or conflate this type of slavery with the chattel slavery coming from Africa; St. Patrick escaped the latter. In lieu of their status as indentured servants, many Irish (among other poor Europeans) labored under the yoke of another human. Similarly, Irish immigrants during the Industrial Revolution met inhospitable conditions in their apartments and factories. While laboring under harsh demands, many Irish prayed to St. Patrick—a man who spent six years in slavery.

Patrick learned to pray to the Father in secret while he endured injustice. The Father gradually freed him from his sin and ignorance while he endured “hunger and nakedness daily.” Those six years of slavery helped him mature from his rambunctious youth. Patrick grew in love and fear of the Lord while learning Christian humility:

“Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave.” (Mt 20:26–27)

After learning humility in the midst of oppression, St. Patrick confessed the mercy God showed him:

“The Lord turned His gaze round on my lowliness and took pity on my adolescence and ignorance and kept watch over me before I knew Him…He fortified me and consoled me as a father consoles a son.”

Eventually, the Lord visited Patrick in a mystical way and guided him out of captivity and Ireland. Patrick’s emancipation from slavery and sin encapsulates St. Paul’s words, “So through God you are no longer a slave but a son” (Gal 4:7). He rejoiced in the “glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rm 8:21). The saint praised the Lord for his liberation from man, but he praised God more for the grace that freed him from ignorance and sin. St. Paul’s words describe well Patrick’s conversion:

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (Rm 6:17–18)

Patrick was freed from two forms of slavery in order to become a slave of righteousness. Yet, this slavery is different, because it is tied to sonship and friendship. “No longer do I call you servants…but I have called you friends” (Jn 15:15). It is a paradox that one can be the son of God and a friend of Christ, and find freedom in obedience. Patrick’s life testifies to that truth, as he obeyed the Lord’s call and returned to the land of his captivity.

Patrick records a locution of the Irish people calling to him, “We call you, holy boy, that you come and walk farther among us.” Whereas before the Irish forced Patrick to the yoke of human slavery, here they beckon him to take on the yoke of Christ. The impassioned call helped create one of the greatest evangelizers in Church history and helped produce an emerald isle of the faith.

Today, merrymaking and lamentation seem a fitting response to Ireland’s patronal feast day. It’s a day of Masses, prayers, dancing, and, unfortunately, riotous drinking. The latter debauchery flies in the face of St. Patrick’s sanctity; indeed, the green-clad souls pounding green Guinness manifest the pagan world the saint brazenly entered. St. Patrick, a man freed from a twofold slavery, took on the yoke of Christ to liberate such as these still captive to sin. We can even now learn from his words:

“I had come to Irish gentiles to proclaim the Gospel, and to endure indignities from unbelievers…so that I might give up my freeborn status for the advantage of others…for His name.”

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig dhuit,
Matthew

Mar 30 – Bl Maria Restituta Kafka, SFCC, (1894-1943), Martyr of the Nazis, “No one can take the faith from us!”

restituta_kafka2

– This article was published in “The Crusader” issue June 2013.

WE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN (ACTS 5:29)

“A strong and courageous woman, Ward Sister and Head Nurse in an Austrian hospital, she firmly opposed the anti-religious measures of the Nazi regime and defended the rights of the weak and the sick, speaking of peace and democracy. She was denounced by the SS, was imprisoned, condemned to death and then beheaded in Vienna on the 30th March 1943, at the age of 49. She was killed together with some communist workmen whom she managed to comfort on the eve of their death.

THE FRANCISCAN SISTERS OF CHRISTIAN CHARITY

The sacrifice of Blessed Maria Restituta (Helene Kafka) – the only nun to be condemned to death under the National-Socialist regime and judged after a court hearing – was recently commemorated in the Basilica of St Bartholomew on Tiber Island. Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna, celebrated a Mass at which the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity gave to the Basilica a small cross which Maria Restituta carried on the belt of her habit. The relic was placed in the altar – which commemorates the martyrs of National-Socialism – by a woman who was born in 1941 in the very hospital where the religious served in those years. Immediately following the great jubilee of 2000, John Paul II decided that the Roman Basilica of St Bartholomew on Tiber Island was to become a memorial of the ‘new martyrs’ and witnesses of the faith from the 20th and 21st centuries.

ENERGETIC CHARACTER

Born on 1 May 1894 [at Hussowitz bei Bruenn in the Austria-Hungary Empire, today] Brno-Husovice, in modern day Czech Republic, of humble background, Helene Kafka grew up in the Austrian capital where she worked in the Lainz hospital with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. In 1914 she entered the convent and received the name Maria Restituta. From 1919 until 1942 she served in the hospital in Moedling, Vienna, where she became a surgical nurse and an anaesthetist, esteemed for her professional competence, beloved for her sensitivity and respected for her energetic character, so much that she soon earned the nickname ‘Sister Resoluta’.

restituta-kafka-to-fs

THE CROSS OF CHRIST

After Germany annexed Austria, the religious worked for justice and the dignity of every human being. Faced with the anti-religious suppression of the Nazis, she responded by reaffirming religious freedom and by refusing to remove the crucifixes in the hospital. She also countered Hitler’s swastika with the Cross of Christ. She also spread ‘A soldier’s song’ that spoke of democracy, peace, and a free Austria. Spied on by two ladies, she was denounced by a doctor close to the SS, who for some time sought an opportunity to distance her from the hospital.

Restituta_Kafka1
-mug shot after arrest

‘SHE WAS A SAINT’

After her arrest by the Gestapo on Ash Wednesday, 18 February 1942, she was condemned to death on 29th October 1942 (the day chosen for her liturgical memorial). The sentence was carried out on 30th March 1943. Before her death she asked the chaplain to make the sign of the cross on her forehead. ‘She was a saint because in that situation she encouraged everyone, she transmitted a power, a positive spirit and one of confidence’, a fellow prisoner later recalled.

Bl. Restituta spent her remaining days ministering to other prisoners. As she approached the guillotine wearing a paper shirt and weighing just half her previous weight, her last words were, “I have lived for Christ; I want to die for Christ.”

Fearing that Catholic Christians would promote her as a martyr, the Nazis did not hand over her body. Rather they buried it in a mass grave.

In the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiber in Rome is a chapel dedicated to 20th century martyrs. The crucifix that hung from Bl. Restituta’s belt is kept there as a relic.

On 21 June 1998 Restituta Kafka was beatified in Vienna, together with the servants of God, Jakob Kern and Anton Maria Schwartz, by John Paul II, who said: ‘Looking at Blessed Sister Restituta, we can see to what heights of inner maturity a person can be led by the divine hand.’

She risked her life for her witness to the Cross. And she kept the Cross in her heart, bearing witness to it once again before being led to execution, when she asked the prison chaplain to ‘make the Sign of the Cross on my forehead’. John Paul II continued: ‘Many things can be taken from us Christians but the Cross as the sign of salvation will not be taken from us. We will not let it be removed from public life! We will listen to the voice of our conscience, which says: ‘We must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).

‘NO ONE CAN TAKE FROM US THE FAITH’

Blessed Maria Restituta Helene Kafka was a lady who, with a power for renewal, was able to give an example of freedom of expression and of responsibility of the individual conscience – even in difficult circumstances, animated by a virtue that is at times inconvenient: courage. ‘No matter how far we are from everything we are, no matter what is taken from us,’ the religious wrote in a letter from prison, ‘no one can take from us the faith we have in our heart. In this way we can build an altar in our own heart.’”

Love & blessing,
Matthew

Mar 30 – St John Climacus (aka of the Ladder, Scholasticus, Sinaites), (579-649 AD) – The Ladder of Divine Ascent

The_Ladder_of_Divine_Ascent_Monastery_of_St_Catherine_Sinai_12th_century
-John Climacus is shown at the top of the The Ladder of Divine Ascent, with other monks following him, 12th century icon (Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt). Please click on the image for greater detail.

revstephenfreeman
-by Fr. Stephen Freeman

“St. John Climacus is the author of the ancient work, The Ladder of Divine Ascent. It is a classic work describing “steps” within the life of the struggling ascetic. There is an icon associated with this work, picturing monastics climbing the rungs of a ladder to heaven, battling demons who are trying to pull them off. However, ladders are dangerous things to put in the hands of a modern Christian.

Modernity likes ladders. We like the idea of upward mobility, of continuing improvement, of moral progress. We speak of “career ladders” and the “ladder of success.” It is the myth of personal power. Modernity is a cultural phenomenon created by the theology of the Reformation and the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Freed from the constraints of inherited tradition (such as the Catholic Church) and the royal state (hurrah for democracy?), modernity is a story told to individuals that they can now become whatever they want. Freedom and personal industry are the twin rails supporting the rungs of progress. As a philosophy, this idea and its associated notions are the bedrock of free-market capitalism. As theology, it is the foundation for self-help Christianity and the positive, motivational preaching of contemporary religion. “Be all that you can be, and Jesus can help!”

Nurtured in this culture, contemporary believers are not immune to its allure, particularly if the images appear in the guise of desert monasticism and striving. More than once I have heard the sad confession, “I don’t feel like I’m a very good Christian.” Implied in this statement is that some Christians should, somehow, be better than other Christians. Some foolish people even call us the “marines” of the spiritual life.

Of course, all of this, particularly when applied to writings such as St. John’s Ladder, is pure distortion and delusion. Its most subtle and seductive version is that of moral progress. I wrote a series of articles last year denouncing the concept of moral progress, identifying it as largely a modern notion and not consistent with the mind of the fathers. Here, I reaffirm that without equivocation.

We simply are not saved by getting better. It is a false image and a false goal. Of course, critics will charge that I’m being defeatist and suggesting a path devoid of moral effort. I am doing nothing of the sort. Everyone should, at all times, struggle against sin. But measuring, even watching for improvement can be not only self-defeating but sinful in itself. The Ladder points to a very different path:

“You cannot escape shame except by shame,” St. John says (4.62).

We do not gradually improve and thereby leave our shame behind us. The way down is the way up. The ladder of divine ascent is actually a ladder of divine descent. The path to union with God is only found in making the descent with Him. “Lo, if I descend into hell, Thou art there” (Ps 139:8). St. Gregory the Theologian says, “If He descends into hell, go with Him” (Oration 45).

The path of modernity carries no humility. It breeds pride, and frequently contempt. Failure is its nemesis. We blame ourselves for laziness and sloth, certain that a little more effort will make the difference. Like a child given a bad grade, we plead that we’ll try harder. Confession is seen as the Second Chance, the opportunity to pull up our grades. “Loser!” is the taunt of the modern world (a word spawned in the pit of hell).

your-a-loser

But St. John points us towards our shame. He does not describe a path of moral improvement. His path follows the Cross, which is the descent into Hades. My failure, not sought for its own sake (we do not sin in order to gain grace), is always and immediately the gate of Hades and the gate of Paradise. When I acknowledge my failure and refuse to hide from its shame, we can call out for Christ to comfort us. “I did not turn my face from the shame and the spitting” (Is. 50:6). He will meet us in our shame, and takes it upon Himself. My failure becomes the failure of God (2 Cor. 5:21). It does not separate me from Christ, but, ironically, unites me to Him in the paradox that is at the very heart of our salvation. God became what we are, that we might become what He is. God does not meet us in the middle. He meets us at the bottom and asks us to meet Him there as well.

It is within that place that true humility is born. Judgment ceases. If I accept my shame in union with Christ, how can I judge another? Indeed, it is largely my efforts to avoid my shame that makes me judge my brother. We can only avoid judging if we “see our own transgressions” (as we are taught in the Prayer of St. Ephrem).

Modernity loves excellence. The moral improvement pitches of the motivational preachers love the drive for excellence. Our bosses and the owners demand that we strive for excellence. God is not our boss, nor does He place us in His debt (“freely you have received”). The constant nagging voice demanding improvement and excellence is not the voice of God. It is often nothing more than the neurotic echo of modernity sounding in our brains. It drives us with the threat of shame. However, Christ has trampled down shame by shame and invites us to do the same thing. “You cannot escape shame except by shame.”

Become a Christian who follows Christ. We do not seek to please Him with our excellence. We seek to imitate Him by going where He has gone.”

St. John Climacus says that the ancient Fathers, even those who were most perfect, exercised themselves in many kinds of mortification and contempt. For they said that if they should give up training themselves because men thought them already consummate in virtue, they would come, in time, to abandon and lose that modesty and patience which they possessed; just as a field, though rich and fertile, if it be no longer cultivated, becomes unsightly and ends in producing only thorns and thistles.

Love,
Matthew

Annunciation, the Ark of the Covenant, & Sts Joseph, Jerome, & Bernard of Clairvaux

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-Annunciation, 1655, by Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo

Among the early doctors of the Church, Saint Jerome is the staunchest defender of Saint Joseph’s honor and integrity. For he clarifies that Joseph feared to take Mary home as his wife not out of any fear that Our Lady had in any way sinned. Rather, Saint Joseph, the son of David, shared his royal ancestor’s fear of coming into overly close contact with the Tabernacle of the Lord, the Ark of the Covenant, wherein God dwells. “Who am I,” asked King David, “that the Ark of the Lord should come to me?” (2 Sam. 6:9).

“…Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God…David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?” He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household. Now King David was told, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing…Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.”
-2 Sam 6:6-7, 9-12, 14-15

Joseph, believing fully that Mary had conceived by the power of God’s Spirit, feared to bring her into his home lest he be overcome by the majesty of the divine mystery and overwhelmed by the presence of such sanctity. This is why he chose to honor Mary’s secret, not to expose her mystery. His decision not to bring her into his home was born not out of envy but out of reverential fear. In this view, Saint Jerome is supported by the Mellifluous Doctor, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

Love,
Matthew

Mar 18 – St Cyril of Jerusalem, (313-386 AD), Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church, Patron of Faithfulness to the Church

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“God is loving to man, and loving in no small measure. For say not, I have committed fornication and adultery: I have done dreadful things, and not once only, but often: will He forgive? Will He grant pardon? Hear what the Psalmist says: How great is the multitude of Your goodness, O Lord! (Ps 31:19)

Your accumulated offenses surpass not the multitude of God’s mercies: your wounds surpass not the great Physician’s skill. Only give yourself up in faith: tell the Physician your ailment: say thou also, like David: I said, I will confess me my sin unto the Lord: and the same shall be done in your case, which he says immediately: And you forgave the wickedness of my heart”

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 2.6

On March 18, the Roman Catholic Church honors St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a fourth-century bishop and Doctor of the Church whose writings are still regarded as masterful expressions of Christian faith.

St. Cyril is also remembered for his exhaustive Biblical knowledge, and his endurance in the face of misunderstanding and opposition. Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, who likewise celebrate him as a saint on March 18, also remember him on May 7 – the date of a miraculous apparition said to have occurred soon after his consecration as a bishop.

What we know of Cyril’s life is gathered from information concerning him from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret.

Cyril was most likely born in Jerusalem around the year 315, shortly after the legalization of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.

Although that legalization put a stop to many of the persecutions that threatened the Church for two centuries, it indirectly gave rise to a number of internal controversies – both in regard to theology, and the jurisdiction of bishops – in which Cyril would find himself involved.

Cyril received an excellent education in classical Greek literature as well as the Bible. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Maximus of Jerusalem, and succeeded him as bishop in 348.

During his early years as a bishop, most likely around 350, he delivered a series of lectures to new initiates of the Catholic Church. Twenty-four of the lectures have survived and are studied today. In a 2007 general audience, Pope Benedict XVI praised the saint for providing an “integral” form of Christian instruction, “involving body, soul, and spirit.” St. Cyril’s teaching, the Pope said, “remains emblematic for the catechetical formation of Christians today.

In 351, three years after Cyril became the Bishop of Jerusalem, a large cross-shaped light appeared for several hours in the sky over the city – an event that many interpreted as a sign of the Church’s triumph over heresy. It could also, however, be understood as a sign of the suffering the new bishop would undergo in leading his flock.

Unlike many other Eastern bishops and priests of the fourth century, Cyril did not allow his classical learning to lead him away from believing in the full humanity and divinity of Christ.

However, the man who consecrated Cyril as a bishop, Archbishop Acacius of Caesarea, was an ally of the Arians – who claimed that Jesus was a creature and not God. Because of his connection to the archbishop, Cyril himself was unjustly suspected of heresy by many of his brother bishops.

But he also found himself at odds with Archbishop Acacius, who claimed to have jurisdiction over the birthplace of the Church. Altogether, these disputes led to Cyril being exiled from Jerusalem three times in the course of 20 years. Cyril first took refuge with Silvanus, Bishop of Taraus. He appeared at the Council of Seleucia in 359, in which the semi-Arian party was triumphant. Acacius was deposed and St. Cyril seems to have returned to his see. But the emperor was displeased at the turn of events, and, in 360, Cyril and other moderates were again driven out, and only returned at the accession of Julian in 361. In 367, a decree of Valens banished all the bishops who had been restored by Julian, and Cyril remained in exile until the death of the persecutor in 378. In 380, St. Gregory of Nyssa came to Jerusalem on the recommendation of a council held at Antioch in the preceding year. He found the Faith in accord with the truth and expressed admiration of his pastoral efforst, but the city was a prey to parties and corrupt in morals.

In 381, St. Cyril participated in the Second Ecumenical Council, which condemned two different forms of Arianism and added statements about the Holy Spirit to the Nicene Creed of 325. St. Cyril of Jerusalem died in 387, and was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1883.

“Make your fold with the sheep; flee from the wolves: depart not from the Church,” Cyril admonished catechumens surrounded by heresy. These were prophetic words for Cyril was to be hounded by enemies and heretics for most of his life, and although they could exile him from his diocese he never left his beloved Church.

Cyril’s life began a few years before Arianism (the heresy that Jesus was not divine or one in being with the Father) and he lived to see its suppression and condemnation at the end of his life. In between he was the victim of many of the power struggles that took place.

We know little about Cyril’s early life. Historians estimate he was born about 315 and that he was brought up in Jerusalem. He speaks about the appearance of the sites of the Nativity and Holy Sepulchre before they were “improved” by human hands as if he were a witness. All we know of his family were that his parents were probably Christians and he seemed to care for them a great deal. He exhorted catechumens to honor parents “for however much we may repay them, yet we can never be to them what they as parents have been to us.” We know he also had a sister and a nephew, Gelasius, who became a bishop and a saint.

He speaks as one who belonged to a group called the Solitaries. These were men who lived in their own houses in the cities but practiced a life of complete chastity, ascetism, and service.

After being ordained a deacon and then a priest, his bishop Saint Maximus respected him enough to put him in charge of the instruction of catechumens. We still have these catechetical lectures of Cyril’s that were written down by someone in the congregation. When speaking of so many mysteries, Cyril anticipated the question, “But some one will say, If the Divine substance is incomprehensible, why then do you discourse of these things? So then, because I cannot drink up all the river, am I not even to take in moderation what is expedient for me? Because with eyes so constituted as mine I cannot take in all the sun, am I not even to look upon it enough to satisfy my wants? Or again, because I have entered into a great garden, and cannot eat all the supply of fruits, would you have me go away altogether hungry?.. I am attempting now to glorify the Lord, but not to describe him, knowing nevertheless that I shall fall short of glorifying God worthily, yet deeming it a work of piety even to attempt it at all.”

When Maximus died, Cyril was consecrated as bishop of Jerusalem. Because he was supported by the Arian bishop of Caesarea, Acacius, the orthodox criticized the appointment and the Arians thought they had a friend. Both factions were wrong, but Cyril wound up in the middle.

When a famine hit Jerusalem, the poor turned to Cyril for help. Cyril, seeing the poor starving to death and having no money, sold some of the goods of the churches. This was something that other saints including Ambrose and Augustine had done and it probably saved many lives. There were rumors, however, that some of the vestments wound up as clothing for actors.

Actually, the initial cause of the falling out between Acacius and Cyril was territory not beliefs. As bishop of Caesarea, Acacia had authority over all the bishops of Palestine. Cyril argued that his authority did not include Jerusalem because Jerusalem was an “apostolic see” — one of the original sees set up by the apostles. When Cyril did not appear at councils that Acacius called, Acacius accused him of selling church goods to raise money and had him banished.

Cyril stayed in Tarsus while waiting for an appeal. Constantius called a council where the appeal was supposed to take place. The council consisted of orthodox, Arians, and semi-Arian bishops. When Acacius and his faction saw that Cyril and other exiled orthodox bishops were attending, they demanded that the persecuted bishops leave. Acacius walked out when the demand was not met. The other bishops prevailed on Cyril and the others to give in to this point because they didn’t want Acacius to have reason to deny the validity of the council. Acacius returned but left again for good when his creed was rejected — and refused to come back even to give testimony against his enemy Cyril. The result of the council was the Acacius and the other Arian bishops were condemned. There’s no final judgment on Cyril’s case but it was probably thrown out when Acacius refused to testify and Cyril returned to Jerusalem.

This was not the end of Cyril’s troubles because Acacius carried his story to the emperor — embellishing it with details that it was a gift of the emperor’s that was sold to a dancer who died wearing the robe. This brought about a new synod run by Acacius who now had him banished again on the basis of what some bishops of Tarsus had done while Cyril was there.

This exile lasted until Julian became emperor and recalled all exiled bishops, orthodox or Arian. Some said this was to exacerbate tension in the Church and increase his imperial power. So Cyril returned to Jerusalem. When Acacius died, each faction nominated their own replacement for Caesarea. Cyril appointed his nephew Gelasius — which may seem like nepotism, except that all orthodox sources spoke of Gelasius’ holiness. A year later both Cyril and Gelasius were driven out of Palestine again as the new emperor’s consul reversed Julian’s ruling.

Eleven years later, Cyril was allowed to go back to find a Jerusalem destroyed by heresy and strife. He was never able to put things completely right. He did attend the Council at Constantinople in 381 where the Nicene Creed and orthodoxy triumphed and Arianism was finally condemned. Cyril received justice at the same Council who cleared him of all previous rumors and commended him for fighting “a good fight in various places against the Arians.”

Cyril had eight years of peace in Jerusalem before he died in 386, at about seventy years old.”

St Cyril of Jerusalem, faithful always to Holy Mother Church, help us too, always remain ever faithful to her!!! Ora pro nobis!!!

Love,
Matthew

Mar 19 – St Joseph, Sorrow leads to Joy!!!

John-16.20

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As I have mentioned prior, Joy! is not the same thing as the quick, early-flash, “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it”, the sugar-high of some giddy blush of unearned, easy, light, incidental, or happy, happy, happy, happiness; the health and strength, vitality, appetites, it ALL works, God willing, of youth. Even these wane in the evening of life; Sts Ren & Stimpy, notwithstanding, pray for us!

The Joy! which only God gives, the relationship with Him, takes patience, takes time, as the best relationships do. (just ask St Augustine)  Start early!!! It involves birthing-suffering, silence, you don’t NEED to do or say ANYTHING. Just present yourself, more in mind and heart, than in chapel, but chapels are nice, and quiet, too.

Whatever your state, your condition, present yourself to Him, constantly, never leave Him. Let Him be with you, always, ALWAYS! He will abide, if you invite Him. He will. He will. Collapse, face-flat, spent, gone, nothing-left, and bereft, before His awesome, infinite, holy mercy. “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in You I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until disaster has passed.” (Ps 57:1)

Never suffering for suffering’s sake. Our God is NOT a sadist!!! But, as a pedagogical tool of His holy will. How else do we, or at least me, of hardened heart and head, learn?  Cheap grace.  I hate cheap grace.  Hate it.  Hate it.  Hate it.  Patience in prayer. Patience in and with Him. Trust. Trust. Trust. He gives the strength and grace to do it, too. He provides ALL necessary for His will, and our good. He provides ALL; His Holy Providence! Praise Him. Praise Him. 🙂 (Heb 12:11)

“Your faith has been your salvation.” (Lk 7:50) Your FAITH has been your SALVATION! So true. So true. It is a ripened fruit on the tree of our lives, long before harvest it buds, the gift of the mercy, mercy, merciful God, the GOOD God, the loving Father who KNOWS what is BEST for us, although we may, as children often do, do, disagree strongly with His righteous will and corrections. We do. We do. We do. (Mt 7:11)

The Joy! which the GOOD God gives to His children is the richest of the fruits of life. Richer, sweeter, more succulent than health, wealth, or any of the pleasures or people this life can give. It is. It is. It is. Praise Him, Church. Praise Him. 🙂

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-by Lianna Mueller

“On March 19, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Joseph. Though he had the treasure of living with the holiest, most amazing two people to ever live, the life of St. Joseph was filled with sorrows- but these sorrows eventually brought joy. Like us, St. Joseph didn’t know how the sorrows of his life would turn to joy; he choose to trust God and obeyed in the midst of great challenges.

Can you imagine the heartache St. Joseph must have felt to learn that Mary was pregnant? This woman, filled with virtue, appeared to have committed a great sin. The news of her pregnancy was a huge shock. The thought of also being separated from Mary must have also filled his heart with grief. He was betrothed to a perfect woman! Being a faithful Jew, the culture and law dictated that he had to part with her. St. Joseph resolved to divorce her quietly (Matthew 1:19), not wanting her to be subject to public shame. Then an angel came to him in a dream, informing him that this child was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and was the Son of God! St. Joseph chose to have faith and to take Mary as his wife and the Child as his son. He had the great privilege of parenting the Son of God! No other man on earth can claim that. What he thought was sorrow turned to great joy.

Months later, Joseph and Mary were on the way to Joseph’s hometown in order to be counted in the census, as was every other person native to the city. There were no rooms available and Mary was due to deliver the baby. St. Joseph tried and tried, but there was nowhere to be found. (Like looking for a job?  And, money is LOW.  We are NOT going to make it in time!  WHAT AMI GOING TO DO!!!?)  St. Joseph likely felt a blow to his manhood- he was tasked with protecting the Son of God and the Child’s mother and all he was able to provide was a stinky stable for this Child to enter the world into? This must have equaled sorrow for him. However, sorrow turned to joy when the shepherds and the magi came to worship the Child. This Child, a great King, had been called to enter the world in humility and St. Joseph helped to provide that – St Joseph FULFILLED the HOLY WILL of God! – nice on the resume’ 😉 .  I wonder what questions the recruiter/HR will have when they get to that one?  😉

St. Joseph must have felt sorrow when going into Egypt. Again, he was tasked with protecting his wife and the Son of God but now they were refugees, on a trip to safety filled with perils and dangers. He knew that King Herod was looking for his Son to kill Him, though Jesus was only a toddler! Can you imagine the grief and fear that must have filled St. Joseph’s heart? However, as he had learned to do, he trusted God and obeyed when asked to do so. He brought the Holy Family to safety and refuge. The joys of the family must have been many as they raised Jesus and enjoyed time as a family, living in safety and harmony.

When Jesus was about twelve, there was a period of three days in which Mary and Joseph did not know where He was. This would have been a great sorrow. Any parent who has lost a child for even a minute knows how overwhelming and terrible of an experience it is. St. Joseph probably blamed himself for Jesus’ disappearance, thinking that he didn’t do well enough in watching out for him.   (My mother lost me in the department store, only for a few minutes, but it took years off her life.  My grandmother, Mema, my mother’s mother, was, shall we say, not overflowing in praise for my mother.   You think Jewish mothers are tough?  They are.  Try Irish-Catholic ones for spice.  Life can make you that way.  No matter what my mother did, she recalled to me, Mema would say, “You don’t watch those children.”  Nothing.  Nothing was ever good enough.  When pregnant with me, yes, I was a SURPRISE!!!!!  Mema said to my mother, “Mary, you have NO sense!!  My father upon being told of me, in the inadequacy of men expressing their emotions, and resorting reflexively to pitiful and hurtful, really, attempts at humor, said to my mother, “Whom do you suspect?”  Mother did NOT have it easy at home.  RIP.  I miss you so. )  Upon finding Jesus teaching in the temple, his sorrow turned to joy at watching his Son’s wisdom and steadfastness in carrying out God’s will.

These were just a few of the sorrows in the life of St. Joseph. Like us, he had to endure much suffering. These sufferings eventually transformed into joy as God’s plan was revealed. It is much the same in our own lives. St. Joseph teaches us to trust God and obey, though a situation may appear to be hopeless. As we celebrate the feast day of St. Joseph, ask for his intercession in your own sorrows. He will guide you in the path of obedience and trust in God, leading you to great joy.”

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient
in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it will take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—, let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
what time will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that His hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.”
-Rev. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.

Love & Joy!, trusting in His Holy Providence & Will!
St Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us! Sustain us in ALL our trials and wants! Help us to trust Him, as you did, always!!!
Matthew

Mar 19 – Silence & St Joseph, Terror of Demons

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-Guido Reni, 1635, “St Joseph and the Infant Jesus”

As a husband and father, I have a very special devotion to St Joseph, especially in terms of my obligations in married and family life. Universal Patron of the Church, pray for us!

“We can have recourse to many saints as our intercessors, but go especially to Joseph…”   St. Teresa of Avila

To you, O blessed Joseph,
do we come in our tribulation,
and having implored the help of your most holy spouse,
we confidently invoke your patronage also.

Through that charity which bound you
to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God
and through the paternal love
with which you embraced the Child Jesus,
we humbly beg you graciously to regard the inheritance
which Jesus Christ has purchased by His Blood,
and with your power and strength to aid us in our necessities.

O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family,
defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ;
O most loving father, ward off from us
every contagion of error and corrupting influence;
O our most mighty protector, be kind to us
and from heaven assist us in our struggle
with the power of darkness.

As once you rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril,
so now protect God’s Holy Church
from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity;
shield, too, each one of us by your constant protection,
so that, supported by your example and your aid,
we may be able to live piously, to die in holiness,
and to obtain eternal happiness in heaven.

Amen.

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-by Rev Gerard Skinner, priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster, UK
L’Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
23 March 2011, page 14

“We hear not a word from the lips of St Joseph in the Gospels and yet his sanctity shines through his silence. His total fidelity to God can be seen in his actions as he accompanies the Blessed Virgin Mary to Bethlehem and becomes the first man to see the Christ-child; as he leads his family to safety into exile and ultimately brings them home to Nazareth; as he searches with Mary for his young charge and finds him in the temple after which, Scripture tells us, Jesus lived under his parent’s authority.

It is because of the grace given him by God as a member of the Holy Family and the virtues that he exercised that St Joseph holds an understandably high place in the affections of the faithful. The Sacred Liturgy praises St Joseph in thanksgiving to the heavenly Father as “that just man, that wise and loyal servant, whom You placed at the head of Your family. With a husband’s love he cherished Mary, the Virgin Mother of God. With fatherly care he watched over Jesus Christ Your Son, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit”.

Pope Paul VI once said, “St Joseph is the model of those humble ones that Christianity raises up to great destinies … he is the proof that in order to be a good and genuine follower of Christ, there is no need for great things — it is enough to have the common, simple and human virtues, but they need to be true and authentic” (19 March 1969).

Bl. John Henry Newman‘s devotion to St Joseph encapsulates the thoughts and words of many when he wrote, “He was the true and worthy Spouse of Mary, supplying in a visible manner the place of Mary’s Invisible Spouse, the Holy Ghost…. He was the Cherub, placed to guard the new terrestrial Paradise from the intrusion of every foe…. He is Holy Joseph, because his office, of being spouse and protector of Mary, specially demanded sanctity. He is Holy Joseph, because no other Saint but he lived in such and so long intimacy and familiarity with the source of all holiness, Jesus, God Incarnate, and Mary, the holiest of creatures”.

St Bernardine of Siena reflected that St Joseph “is verily the key which unlocked the treasures of the Church of the Old Testament, for in his person all the excellence of Patriarchs and Prophets comes to the completion of achievement, seeing that he alone enjoyed in this life the full fruition of what God had been pleased to promise aforetime to them. It is therefore with good reason that we see a type of him in that Patriarch Joseph who stored up corn for the people. But the second Joseph has a more excellent dignity than the first, seeing that the first gave to the Egyptians bread only for the body, but the second was, on behalf of all the elect, the watchful guardian of that Living Bread which came down from Heaven, of which whosoever eats will never die” (Sermon on St Joseph).

In our own day, Pope Benedict XVI has reflected a number of times on the virtues of the very saint’s name given to him at Baptism —Joseph. In the year of our Holy Father’s election, 2005, he wrote that “St Joseph’s silence does not express an inner emptiness but, on the contrary, the fullness of the faith he bears in his heart and which guides his every thought and action.

“It is a silence thanks to which Joseph, in unison with Mary, watches over the Word of God, known through the Sacred Scriptures, continuously comparing it with the events of the life of Jesus; a silence woven of constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of the adoration of His holy will and of unreserved entrustment to His providence….

“It is no exaggeration to think that it was precisely from His ‘father’ Joseph that Jesus learned — at the human level — that steadfast interiority which is a presupposition of authentic justice, the ‘superior justice’ which He was one day to teach His disciples (cf. Mt 5: 20).

“Let us allow ourselves to be ‘filled’ with St Joseph’s silence! In a world that is often too noisy, that encourages neither recollection nor listening to God’s voice, we are in such deep need of it”.

This reflection of Pope Benedict XVI is particularly pertinent during Lent. Perhaps the example of St Joseph might lead us to add to fasting from forms of food and drink a form of fasting with regards our sense of hearing. So many of us surround ourselves so often with so many types of sounds, be they musical or spoken. It is always striking that this is the season of the year when our, Holy Father goes into his annual silent retreat — a week of Spiritual Exercises to refresh his soul.

While we may not be able to do the same, the example of St Joseph encourages us to ponder with him in silence the life — the grace — of Christ as He seeks to grow in our minds and hearts through this holy season of Lent.”

Love,
Matthew

Mar 3 – St Katharine Drexel, SBS, (1858-1955) – “I am disgusted with the world.”

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“The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth.  What do I still lack?”

Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” -Mt 19:20-22

I grew up in the shadow of Philadelphia. I still miss my cheesesteaks and hoagies!!! 🙂 There is no substitute!! The Drexel name looms large in Philly, and so it is very familiar to me.

“I am disgusted with the world. God in His mercy has opened my eyes to the fact of vanitas vanitatis, and as He has made me see the vile emptiness of this earth, I look to Him — the God of Love — in hope. He will not leave me to despair because of the dreariness of all the joys that cannot satisfy my heart. He is the God of Love, and pitying me, He will open my eyes still more and discover to me the joyful, true depths of all the things invisible. “Show Thy face and we shall be saved; let Thy voice sound in my ears. For Thy voice is sweet, and show Thy face exceedingly beautiful” -Missal for the Laity, Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, 1846….All, all, all (there is no exception) is passing away and will pass away. European travel brings vividly before the mind how cities have risen and fallen, and risen and fallen; and the same of empires and kingdoms and nations. And the billions who lived their common every day life in these nations and kingdoms and empires and cities, where are they? The ashes of the kings and the mighty of this earth are mingled with the dust of the meanest slave….How long will the sun and moon, the stars continue to give forth light? Who can tell? Of one thing alone we are sure. In God’s own time — then shall come the Son of Man in great power and majesty to render to each according to his works….The reward and punishment for these will not pass away, nor does the Day, Eternity, then opening before us. An eternity of happiness infinite, or an eternity of misery infinite.” -St Katharine Drexel

-12/9/1999, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-it-takes-to-be-a-saint/

“Thirty-nine-year-old Robert Gutherman is absolutely convinced that what happened to him as a 14-year-old was in fact a miracle.

In 1974, he developed a severe ear infection, and his parents took him to a top doctor.

“Two of the bones were destroyed, the muscles in my ear, around my ear, were pretty badly damaged,” Gutherman remembers. He recalls the doctor’s comments: “He said,…’Bones are gone, they’re gone. You’re just going to be deaf in that ear.'”

With no possible medical cure, they tried the only thing left: praying to Katherine Drexel.

“We were asking that the pain would subside,” Gutherman says.

For Robert Gutherman, praying to Katherine Drexel miraculously cured his ear infection.

But what he got was much more than that. Suddenly Gutherman could hear again, and what the doctor then found astonished him: The bones in his ear were actually growing back.

The doctor said his body’s healing itself, according to Gutherman. “So when my parents said to the doctor, ‘You know this is a miracle that we think through Katherine Drexel,’ he said, ‘Well it’s got to be, because I have no other explanation to it.'”

-1/28/2000, from http://articles.philly.com/2000-01-28/news/25597578_1_second-miracle-miracle-girl-mother-katharine-drexel

“When doctors first diagnosed 1-year-old Amy Wall with incurable nerve deafness several years ago, her parents prayed that their baby might someday learn sign language.

But Amy’s 7-year-old brother, Jack, believed in miracles. He wanted Amy to hear. And he demanded they pray for a cure.

Constance Wall began to suspect deafness soon after Amy’s birth in 1992, but her husband, John, a real estate developer, refused at first to acknowledge it.

Then, one day, “without Amy looking at me, I came up behind her high chair and clapped my hands,” John Wall recalled. “She did not startle. That’s what made me believe.”

Hospital examinations in September 1993 concluded she suffered from congenital and permanent failure of the auditory nerves.

“The doctors said, ‘Get used to it,’ ” Constance Wall recalled tearfully. “So we just prayed for communication – that she got sign language. If she could sign for her bottle, we thought we would have everything.”

That’s when Jack – who had learned about miracles and prayer in parochial school – announced, “That’s not enough. I’m going to pray for a cure,” his mother said.

After seeing a PBS television special about young Robert Gutherman, who was born deaf but spontaneously grew a missing bone in his ear after his family prayed to Mother Drexel, the Walls asked the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for a relic of Katharine’s, which they laid on her ear.

John Wall, then a Baptist, admitted in an interview yesterday he was skeptical of the Catholic veneration of relics and saints, “but I was watching.”

Then, in March 1994, Amy’s preschool teacher noticed Amy was being startled by loud sounds. Hospital tests that month showed her hearing was inexplicably normal – “perfect,” her mother said.

“When it happened, I wasn’t even sure I knew what I was seeing happen,” her mother recalled. John Wall was so convinced he converted to Catholicism in 1998.

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-Katharine Drexel at 16

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St. Katharine Drexel staffed many schools In inner cities with Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. The Sisters came to teach and give religious instructions in Beaumont, Texas, in 1917. St. Katharine periodically visited each school.
St. Katharine Drexel staffed many schools In inner cities with Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. The Sisters came to teach and give religious instructions in Beaumont, Texas, in 1917. St. Katharine periodically visited each school.

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Mother Katharine had a dream. She later wrote: "I looked up in wonder at God's wonderful ways and thought how little we imagine what may be the result of listening and acting on a desire He puts into the heart. If He puts it into the heart, He will bless it; if we try to act upon it, great will be the effect before God."
Mother Katharine had a dream. She later wrote: “I looked up in wonder at God’s wonderful ways and thought how little we imagine what may be the result of listening and acting on a desire He puts into the heart. If He puts it into the heart, He will bless it; if we try to act upon it, great will be the effect before God.”

The actual amount donated by St. Katharine is differently reported. Mary Oates (1993) gives a figure over $40 million, while the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament report over $20 million (2003).

As a wealthy American heiress, obtaining a private audience with the Holy Father in Rome was possible for Katharine. Interested in the condition of Native Americans, during an audience in 1887, Katharine asked Pope Leo XIII to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend, Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?”

She visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux chief, and began her systematic aid to Indian missions, eventually spending millions of the family fortune. Founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in 1891.

By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, 40 mission centers, 23 rural schools, 50 Indian missions, and Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana, the first United States university for blacks. Segregationists harassed her work. Following a heart attack, she spent her last twenty years in prayer and meditation.

“The patient and humble endurance of the cross whatever nature it may be is the highest work we have to do.” – Mother Katharine Drexel

“Oh, how far I am at 84 years of age from being an image of Jesus in His sacred life on earth!” – Mother Katharine Drexel

Ever loving God, you called Saint Katharine Drexel
to teach the message of the Gospel and
to bring the life of the Eucharist to
the Black and Native American peoples.
By her prayers and example,
enable us to work for justice
among the poor and oppressed.
Draw us all into the Eucharistic community
of your Church, that we may be one in You.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son, who lives and reigns with You and
the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St Katharine Drexel, Patroness of Racial Justice, pray for us!

Love,
Matthew