Living the Tradition of the Catholic Faith passed down through Apostolic succession from Jesus Himself. Like the website, this is dedicated to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts.
However, this blog is also dedicated to my beloved parents:
To my Father who always said I had a book in me and to my Mother who never let me forget it! ;)
Likely the closest I'll ever get to writing a book! ;)

BattleBeads has been featured in How-to-pray-the-rosary-everyday.com's "Rosary Promoter of the Month". To read the July 2010 interview, please visit here.
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

HE IS RISEN! ...

... HE IS TRULY RISEN!

What can be said of Easter that hasn't already been said? Let us just strive to never take for granted what we've been raised with; having become so familiar with the site of a Crucifix, an empty tomb or the story of the Passion.
Let us always seek to delve more deeply into this Passion that gave us true freedom and reconciled us to the Father. Pray always for an increase in Faith and to love Him for all those that don't and even more for all those that do .. let us ask to love Him for the WHOLE WORLD! 

Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

"This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall
celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution." ~Exod 12:14
This day, Maundy Thursday (also "Holy Thursday" or "Shire Thursday") commemorates
Christ's Last Supper and the initiation of the Eucharist. Its name of "Maundy" comes from the Latin word mandatum, meaning "command." This stems from Christ's words in John 13:34, "A new commandment I give unto you." It is the first of the three days known as the "Triduum," and after the Vigil tonight, and until the Vigil of Easter, a more profoundly somber attitude prevails (most especially during the hours between Noon and 3:00 PM on Good Friday). Raucous amusements should be set aside...

The Last Supper took place in "the upper room" of the house believed to have been owned by John Mark and his mother, Mary (Acts 12:12). This room, also the site of the Pentecost, is known as the "Coenaculum" or the "Cenacle" and is referred to as "Holy and glorious Sion, mother of all churches" in St. James' Liturgy. At the site of this place -- our first Christian church -- a basilica was built in the 4th century. It was destroyed by Muslims and later re-built by the Crusaders. Underneath the place is the tomb of David.

After the Supper, He went outside the Old City of Jerusalem, crossed the Kidron Valley, and came to the Garden of Gethsemani, a place whose name means "Olive Press," and where olives still grow today. There He suffered in three ineffable ways: He knew exactly what would befall Him physically and mentally -- every stroke, every thorn in the crown He would wear, every labored breath He would try to take while hanging on the Cross, the pain in each glance at His mother; He knew that He was taking on all the sins of the world -- all the sins that had ever been or ever will be committed; and, finally, He knew that, for some people, this Sacrifice would not be fruitful because they would reject Him. Here He was let down by His Apostles when they fell asleep instead of keeping watch, here is where He was further betrayed by Judas with a kiss, and where He was siezed by "a great multitude with swords and clubs, sent from the chief Priests and the ancients of the people" and taken before Caiphas, the high priest, where he was accused of blasphemy, beaten, spat upon, and prepared to be taken to Pontius Pilate tomorrow morning.

As for today's liturgies, in the morning, the local Bishop will offer a special Chrism Mass during which blesses the oils used in Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Unction, and the consecration of Altars and churches.

At the evening Mass, after the bells ring during the Gloria, they are rung no more until the Easter Vigil (a wooden clapper called a "crotalus" is used insead). Parents explain this to their children by saying that the all the bells fly to Rome after the Gloria of the Mass on Maundy Thursday to visit the Popes. Children are told that the bells sleep on the roof of St. Peter's Basilica, and, bringing Easter eggs with them, start their flight home at the Gloria at the Easter Vigil, when when they peal wildly.

Then comes the Washing of the Feet after the homily, a rite performed by Christ upon His disciples to prepare them for the priesthood and the marriage banquet they will offer, and which is rooted in the Old Testament practice of foot-washing in preparation for the marital embrace (II Kings 11:8-11, Canticles 5:3) and in the ritual ablutions performed by the High Priest of the Old Covenant (contrast Leviticus 16:23-24 with John 13:3-5). The priest girds himself with a cloth and washes the feet of 12 men he's chosen to represent the Apostles for the ceremony.

The rest of the Mass after the Washing of the Feet has a special form, unlike all other Masses. After the Mass, the priest takes off his chasuble and vests in a white cope. He returns to the Altar, incenses the Sacred Hosts in the ciborium, and, preceded by the Crucifer and torchbearers, carries the Ciborium to the "Altar of Repose," also called the "Holy Sepulchre," where it will remain "entombed" until the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday.

Then there follows the Stripping of the Altars, during which everything is removed as Antiphons and Psalms are recited. All the glorious symbols of Christ's Presence are removed to give us the sense of His entering most fully into His Passion. Christ enters the Garden of Gethsemani; His arrest is imminent. Fortescue's "Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described" tells us: "From now till Saturday no lamps in the church are lit. No bells are rung. Holy Water should be removed from all stoups and thrown into the sacrarium. A small quantity is kept for blessing the fire on Holy Saturday or for a sick call." The joyful signs of His Presence won't return until Easter begins with the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday evening.

Customs

As to customs, many families have a practice of visiting the tabernacles of three or seven nearby churches after the Mass on this day as a sort of "mini-pilgrimage" (any nearby Catholic churches will do). Some families visit the churches directly after the evening Mass; others go home and wake up in the middle of the night to make the visits (though since churches are rarely open all night these days, this would be hard to do). The spirit of the visits to the churches is keeping vigil in the Garden of Gethsemani while Jesus prayed before His arrest. Matthew 26:36 "Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray."

In Germany, Maundy Thursday is known as "Green Thursday" (Grundonnerstag), and the traditional foods are green vegetables and green salad, especially a spinach salad. In Latin countries, Jordan almonds ("confetti") are eaten today and also throughout Eastertide.


Back when Kings and Queens of England were Catholic, they, too, would wash the feet of 12 subjects, seeing the footwashing rite also as an example of service and humility. They would also give money to the poor on this day, a practice is said to have begun with St. Augustine of Canterbury in A.D. 597, and performed by Kings since Edward II. Now the footwashing isn't done (it was given up in the 18th c.), but a special coin called "Maundy Money" is minted and given to the selected elderly of a representative town. 

On this day, one may gain a plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, by reciting the Tantum Ergo (Down in Adoration Falling).

Tantum ergo sacramentum
Veneremur cernui
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensum defectui

Genitori, genitoque
Laus et jubilatio
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio, amen
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/charlotte-church/tantum-ergo-lyrics/#T8jDJRG3zAvMKZqf.9
Tantum ergo sacramentum
Veneremur cernui
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensum defectui
 
 Genitori, genitoque
Laus et jubilatio
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio, 
Amen

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blessed Margaret de Castello

Memorial Day: April 13th
Margaret de Castello was born blind and disfigured. She is the patroness of the poor, crippled, and the unwanted.  Her parents Parisio and Emilia imprisoned her so no one would see her, though she could receive the Sacraments when the priest visited her.  Her parents took her to the tomb in Citta di Castello of a holy man named Fra Giacomo, where miracles were reportedly being wrought, to pray for a cure for her birth defects. When no miracle happened, they abandoned her there. She was found by local women who, despite Margaret’s infirmities, adopted her. She eventually became an adopted child of the village. She lived in prayer and charity, helping the poor.

When Margaret grew older, the nun of a local convent offered her a home. At the prospect of living with the religious Margaret rejoiced. However, the village took her joy as a reproach to the community that raised her. She was once again sent out to the streets by persecution and lies.

Fortunately there were a few people left who helped her again and offered her shelter. At fifteen Margaret was given the habit of a tertiary from the Dominican fathers. From thereon, she lived a life entirely devoted to God.

Margaret started performing miraculous cures and acts. In her desire to show gratitude to the people who found and raised her in Citta-di-Castello she established a school for the children whose parents were working. Her school prospered having taught the children their duty to God, devotion to the Child Jesus and the Psalms, which despite her blindness, she learned at the convent. Margaret died at the age of thirty-three. 

 She was born blind, lame, deformed, hunchbacked and a dwarf. When she died at the age of 33, crowds at her funeral demanded she be buried inside the church. After a crippled girl was miraculously cured at the funeral, the priest allowed Margaret’s burial inside.
In 1558, Margaret’s remains were transferred because her coffin was rotten. Her clothes were also rotten, but her body was preserved. She was beatified on October 19, 1609 by Pope Paul V. Her canonization is pending.

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SHORT NOVENA PRAYER


O God, by Whose Will the blessed virgin Margaret was blind from birth, that the eyes of her mind being inwardly enlightened  she might think without ceasing on You alone, be the light of our eyes, that we may be able to flee the shadows of this world, and reach the home of never ending light. We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory be ....

Prayer for Canonization

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, glorify your servant blessed Margaret, by granting the favor we so ardently desire. This we ask in humble submission to God's Will, for His honor and glory and the salvation of souls.




Saturday, April 5, 2014

ST. VINCENT FERRER (1350 – 1419)


St. Vincent Ferrer

St. Vincent Ferrer was born at Valencia, in Spain on the 23rd of January, 1350.  Excitement foreshadowed the child's birth. His mother, Constance, experienced only joy and painlessness during her expectancy; furthermore, his father had a prophetic dream in which an unknown Dominican preacher appeared to him and told him that he would have a son whose fame would be world-renowned. Also, a poor blind woman predicted that the child Constance bore within her was an "angel who would one day restore her sight" – which he did years later. St. Vincent brought with him into the world a happy disposition for learning and piety, which improved from his cradle by study and a good education. In order to subdue his passions, he fasted rigorously from his childhood every Wednesday and Friday. The passion of Christ was always the object of his most tender devotion. The Blessed Virgin he ever honored as his spiritual mother. Looking on the poor as the members of Christ, he treated them with the greatest affection and charity, which caused his parents to make him dispenser of their bountiful alms. His father having proposed to him the choice of a religious state, an ecclesiastical, or a secular state, Vincent without hesitation said it was his earnest desire to consecrate himself to the service of God in the Order of St. Dominic. His good parents with joy conducted him to a convent of that Order in Valencia, and he put on the habit in 1368, in the beginning of his eighteenth year.
He made a surprisingly rapid progress in the paths of perfection, taking St. Dominic for his model.  To the exercises of prayer and penance, he joined the study and meditation of the Holy Scriptures and the readings of the Fathers.  For three years, he read only the scriptures and knew the whole Bible by heart.  Soon after his solemn profession, he was appointed to read lectures of philosophy, and, at the end of his course, published a treatise on Dialectic Suppositions, being not quite twenty-four years old.  He was then sent to Barcelona, where he continued his scholastic exercises, and at the same time preached the word of God with great fruit, especially during a great famine, when he foretold the arrival of two vessels loaded with corn the same evening to relieve the city, which happened, contrary to all expectation.  From thence he was sent to Lerida, the most famous university of Catalonia.  There, continuing his apostolic functions and education, he received his doctorate, receiving the cap from the hands of Cardinal Peter de Luna, legate of Pope Clement VII, in 1378, being twenty-eight years of age.  At the earnest requests of the bishop, clergy and the people of Valencia, he was recalled to his own country, and pursued there both his lectures and his preaching with such extraordinary reputation, so manifestly attended with the benediction of the Almighty, that he was honored in the whole country above what can be expressed.  As a humiliation, God permitted an angel of Satan to molest him with violent temptations of the flesh, and to fill his imagination with filthy ideas.  The arms which the saint employed against the devil were prayer, penance, and a perpetual watchfulness over every impulse of his passions.  As he grew into manhood it was said that his countenance was beautiful and radiant, which reflected the beauty of a soul filled with the love of God. Even in his old age, this radiance never left him. He was most radiant, however, when he gave a sermon on the Mother of God or the joys of Heaven. He was firmly devoted to the Passion and enjoyed a childlike devotion to Mary, which included a faithful observance of praying the Angelus. His heart was always fixed on God and he made his studies, labor, and all his actions a continued prayer.  The same practice he proposes to all Christians in his book entitled, A Treatise on a Spiritual Life, in which he writes thus:  "Do you desire to study to your advantage?  Let devotion accompany all your studies and study less to make yourself learned than to become a saint."
Consider some of the phrases in this marvelous book.  "What is meritorious is not that a man should be poor, but that, being poor, he should love poverty." "A vain question deserves nothing but silence. So learn to be silent for a time; you will edify your brethren and silence will teach you to speak when the hour is come." "Regard yourself as more vile and miserable in the sight of God because of your faults than any sinner whatever, no matter what his sins...  and consider closely that any grace or inclination to good or desire of virtue you may have, is not of yourself but of the sole mercy of Christ." "Try to convince yourself that there is no crime-laden sinner but would have served God better than you...  if he had received the same graces."  "Once humility is acquired, charity will come to life – a burning flame devouring the corruption of vice and filling the heart so full that there is no place for vanity."

Missionary Travels
Before the end of the year 1392, St. Vincent being forty-two years old, set out from Avignon towards Valencia.  He preached in every town with wonderful efficacy; and the people having heard him in one place followed him in crowds to others.  Public usurers, blasphemers, debauched women, and other hardened sinners everywhere were induced by his discourses to embrace a life of penance.  He converted a great number of Jews and Mohammedans, heretics and schismatics.  He visited every province of Spain in this manner, except Galicia.  He went thence into Italy, preaching on the coasts of Genoa, in Lombardy, Piedmont, and Savoy, as he did in part of Germany, about the Upper Rhine and through Flanders.  Numerous wars and the unhappy great schism in the Church had been productive of a multitude of disorders in Christendom; gross ignorance and a shocking corruption of manners prevailed in many places, whereby the teaching of this zealous apostle, who, like another Boanerges, preached in a voice of thunder, became not only useful but even absolutely necessary, to assist the weak and alarm the sinner.  The ordinary subjects of his sermons were sin, death, God's judgments, hell, and eternity.  He delivered his discourses with so much energy that he filled the most insensible with terror.  A great number of his sermons have come down to us, some in Latin and many in the vernacular. By them one seizes the man and the saint to the life.  They are masterpieces of naturalness, intelligence, picturesqueness and, at moments, poetry. In their kind there is nothing better.  And they all develop one same theme.
First of all, there is sin as he had known it in the world under its seven root forms, stripped of all its pretenses and of its false promises of delight.  After that comes penance, which can drive out sin or at least dull the sharpness of its edge, fortifying us against sin's assaults and uniting with the Blood of Christ to plead for us before the Throne of God. Finally is the Judgment with its alternative for those who have done evil – Purgatory or Hell.  That inevitable judgment, which awaits each one of us in the moment of death, he made concrete and dramatic by building it into one thing with the terrible picture of the universal Judgment, the Last Judgment, when Christ will appear on the clouds of heaven to summon the living and the dead to that damnation or glory.  He showed it in all its splendor, all its horror – in that light which is beatitude or torment, which ravishes the soul or burns it without end.  Punishment is certain; punishment is at hand.  It is coming towards us relentlessly.  Every day we live brings it one day closer.  It may be upon us in an hour, in a second. He felt it so and he made sinners tremble with the feeling.  He returned to this theme frequently and on great occasions. "Yes," you will say, "he wanted to frighten them." He did indeed want to frighten them because he himself was afraid.  And as his fear for himself grew less, his fear for them grew greater.  Not, alas, that he believed himself just.  How could he when he still had life before him and might still, therefore, fail?  And if he failed that day?  What if God held him responsible for the sins of his brethren because he had not succeeded in raising and fortifying them in virtue?
At his sermons he was frequently obliged to stop to give leisure for the sobs and sighs of the congregation.  His sermons were not only pathetic, but were also addressed to the understanding and supported with a wonderful strength of reasoning and the authorities of scriptures and fathers, which he perfectly understood and employed as occasion required.  His gift of miracles and the sanctity of his penitential life gave to his words the greatest weight.  Amidst these journeys and fatigues, he never ate flesh; fasted every day except Sundays, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he lived on bread and water, which course he held for forty years;  He lay on straw or small twigs.  He spent a great part of the day in the confessional, with incredible patience, and there finished what he had begun in the pulpit. We have the testimony of John of Plascenia, who was with him for some time, that he read souls like an open book.
He had with him five friars of his Order and some other priests to assist him.  Though by his sermons thousands were moved to give their possessions to the poor, he never accepted anything himself and was no less scrupulous in cultivating in his heart the virtue and spirit of obedience than that of poverty, for which reason he declined accepting any dignity in the church or superiority in his Order.  He labored thus nearly twenty years, until 1417, in Spain, Majorca, Italy, and France.  During this time, preaching in Catalonia, among other miracles, he restored the use of his limbs to John Soler, a crippled boy, judged by the physicians incurable, who afterwards became a very eminent man and Bishop of Barcelona.  In the year 1400 he was at Aix, in Provence, and, in 1401, he was in Piedmont and the neighboring parts of Italy, being honorably received in the obedience of each pope. Returning into Savoy and Dauphine, he found there a valley called Valpute, or Valley of Corruption, in which the inhabitants were abandoned to cruelty and shameful lusts.  He joyfully exposed his life among these abandoned wretches, converted them all from their errors and vices, and changed the name of the valley to Valpur, or Valley of Purity, which name it ever after retained.  He preached two or three times every day, preparing his sermons while he was on the road.  He worked for three months, traveling from village to village and from town to town in Dauphine announcing the word of God, making a longer stay in three valleys in the diocese of Embrun, namely, Lucerna, Argenteya, and Valpute, having converted almost all the heretics which peopled those parts.  Being invited in the most pressing manner into Piedmont, he, for thirteen months, preached and instructed the people there, in Montserrat and the valleys, and brought to the Faith a multitude of Vaudois and other heretics.  He says that the general source of their heresy was ignorance and want of an instructor, and cries out, "I blush and tremble when I consider the terrible judgment impending on ecclesiastical superiors who live at their ease in rich palaces, while so many souls redeemed by the Blood of Christ are perishing.  I pray without ceasing the Lord of the harvest that He send good workmen into His harvest." He adds that he had in the valley of Luferia converted a heretical bishop by a conference, extirpated a certain infamous heresy in the valley Pontia, converted the country into which the murderers of St. Peter, the martyr, had fled, reconciled the Guelphs and Gibelins, and settled a general peace in Lombardy.  Being called back into Piedmont by the bishops and lords of that country, he stayed five months in the dioceses of Aoust, Tarentaise, St. John of Morienne and Grenoble.  He says he was then at Geneva, where he had abolished a very inveterate superstitious festival – a thing the bishop dared not attempt – and was going to Lausane, being called by the bishop to preach to many idolaters who adored the sun and to heretics, who were obstinate, daring, and very numerous on the frontiers of Germany.

Conversions of the Moors and Jews
The saint was honored with the gift of tongues. Preaching in his own, he was understood by men of different languages, which is affirmed by Lanzano, who says that Greeks, Germans, Sardes, Hungarians, and people of other nations declared they understood every word he spoke, though he preached in Latin or his mother tongue, as spoken at Valencia.  There is another marvelous fact which is beyond normal explanation.  However far away people might be, everyone heard every syllable.  He could make himself heard literally about three miles away, when it was of importance that he should be heard. He also worked many wonders through the Sign of the Cross and through the Holy Name of Jesus. He warned lazy Christians who sloppily made a circular sign of the Cross that they were using a sign of the Devil instead!
The Moorish king had heard of him; the multitude of his miracles was startling, and for a good Moslem, upsetting.  He could not get Vincent out of his head.  Finally he decided he must see the man who worked the miracles. He sent for him.  The saint arrived lame from a great sore in the leg and rode on his moth-eaten old donkey through all the splendors of the Alhambra grounds under the fixed stare of the marble lions.  The King wanted to hear him preach.  That in itself was a revolution.  They murmured, they listened, and doubtless they understood though he spoke no Arabic.  For, after three sermons, eight thousand Moors asked for baptism.  Some of the nobles, fearing the total subversion of their religion, obliged the king to dismiss him. He then labored in the kingdom of Aragon and again in Catalonia, especially in the diocese of Gironne and Vich; in a borough of the latter, he renewed the miracle of the multiplication of loaves, related at length in his life. At Barcelona, in 1409, he foretold to Martin, King of Aragon, the death of his son, Martin, the King of Sicily, who was snatched away in the middle of his triumphs in the month of July.  Vincent comforted the afflicted father and persuaded him to a second marriage to secure the public peace by an heir to his crown.
He cured innumerable sick everywhere and, at Valencia, made a dumb woman speak but told her she should ever remain dumb and that this was for the good of her soul, charging her always to praise and thank God in spirit, to which instructions she promised obedience.  He converted the Jews in great numbers in the diocese of Valencia, in the kingdom of Leon, as Mariana relates.  It is difficult to arrive at a figure.  The most cautious of his historians give twenty-five thousand converts among the Jews and eight thousand among the Moors.  "You know," Vincent announced from the pulpit, "that we have good news.  All the Jews and many of the Moors of Valladolid are converted." There was similar news from Toledo, Huesca, Saragossa...  This was after the Congress of Tortosa for the conversion of Israel, suggested to Benedict by a former rabbi, Josua Holuorqui, who had become Friar Jerome of the Holy Faith.  It met in 1414 and was the occasion of interminable arguments – sixty-seven sessions – between rabbis and religious.  Vincent, who took part in the Congress, collaborated in a Treatise on the Jews which served as a base for his further labors among them; in it all the proofs of the Dogma of the Incarnation were magisterially set forth.  The Pope presided.  The populace were massed on the river bank; Master Vincent had taken up his stand to preach on the roof of a house surrounded by trees on the far side of the Ebro.  One day he stopped suddenly in his sermon.  The people were startled.  "Do not be shocked by this interval," he said, "I must wait upon grace." As the crowd began to laugh, a party of Jews were seen approaching:  Grace had conquered them.  Of sixteen rabbis, fourteen were converted.  How he loved these new children of his; he loved to remind Christians who too readily forgot the fact that Jesus and Mary were of the Jewish race.
He was invited to Pisa, Sienna, Florence and Lucca in 1409, whence, after having reconciled the dissensions that prevailed in those parts, he was recalled by John II, King of Castille.  In 1411, he visited the kingdoms of Castille, Leon, Murcia, Andalusia, Asturias and other countries; in all of these places the power of God was manifested in His enabling him to work miracles and effect the conversion of an incredible number of Jews and sinners.  The Jews of Toledo, embracing the faith, changed their synagogue into a church under the name of Our Lady's. From Valadolid, the saint went to Salamanca in the beginning of the year 1412. There he met a procession with a bier and the corpse of a man who had been murdered. In the presence of a great multitude, he commanded the deceased to arise and the dead man instantly revived. For a monument of this miracle a wooden cross was erected and is yet to be seen on the spot.  In the same city, the saint entered the Jewish synagogue with a cross in his hand. Filled with the Holy Ghost, he made so moving a sermon that the Jews, who were at first surprised, all desired baptism at the end of his discourse and changed their synagogue into a church to which they gave the title of the Holy Cross.

Extraordinary Miracles
As a good Dominican, Master Vincent loved to proclaim the all-powerfulness of the Rosary.  "Who observes this practice," he said, "is beyond the reach of adversity." He told the case of a very pious merchant who would say the rosary from morning to night, even to the neglect of his business.  One day he was captured by brigands and, knowing that his hour was come, he humbly asked for a little moment to pray.  Hardly had he begun when the Blessed Virgin came to him accompanied by St. Catherine carrying a tray of roses and St. Agnes with a needle and a ball of thread. The brigands, needless to say, opened their eyes wide.  At each Ave the prisoner recited, the Blessed Virgin took a rose from the plate, pierced it with the needle, slipped it on to the thread.  Thus, she made a wreath which she placed on the prisoner's brow.  As he happened to have his eyes closed, he did not see the wreath, but he smelt its fragrance.  The Virgin and the two saints went off and the merchant offered them his neck, saying, "Now you can strangle me." "Strangle you?"  said the brigands.  "Who were those beautiful women?  You must be a holy man; remember us in your prayers." Then they restored his goods and went away converted.  When he spoke of the Mother of Men, Vincent was transfigured.  He used to tell the case of a schoolboy who wanted at all costs to see her. An angel warned him that if he did so, he would lose an eye.  He accepted and lost an eye.  Then he asked to see her again, though it meant the loss of the other eye, which also took place.  But when he was thus completely blind, the Blessed Virgin restored both eyes.
The people had recourse to him in every difficulty:  The smallest villages fought to have him.  In one place they took his hat, which assured pregnant women of a safe and easy delivery; in others, he drove away a cloud of grasshoppers and a whole army of weevils with holy water.  Once he came to the point of utter exhaustion.  He could go no further.  And heaven came to his aid. In the very heart of a wild lonely forest an excellent hotel appeared suddenly from nowhere to shelter him; leaving it the next day, he happened to forget his hat.  One of the penitents went back to the inn to get it, but there was no inn – the hat was hanging on the branch of a tree at the very spot where the inn had stood.  The following year he came to Murcia.  According to the Bishop's report, which has come down to us, almost no one remained untouched by the grace of the Spirit that filled all the air. In that province there was an end for that time of gambling, debauchery, conspiracy, quarreling, and murder. How could anyone fail to follow the example of a Moor who promised to embrace the faith if the pyre he had lighted in the main square was extinguished at Vincent's prayer? Vincent prayed; the flames went out.
"It is an immense enterprise," as one historian has noted, "to write a life of which every incident was a miracle." Yes, everything in that life, ordinary things as well as extraordinary, was touched with miracles, and the greatest miracle in his life was that life itself, in its daily texture, was so burdened, toil-filled, and various; so continuously under fire, yet so steady and undeviating – in the midst of schism, in the midst of anarchy, under the sulfurous illumination of the Last Judgment, which tragic coming his own life may very well have helped to postpone. Consider the framework of his days.  He rose usually at two in the morning for the night office, recited his psalms, prayed, meditated, went to confession – each morning – and scourged himself, thus purging his soul and chastising his body.  Mass was at six o'clock, then three hours preaching, visits to the sick, mediations between parties in lawsuits and families at odds, final words of advice to souls he had just converted or brought back to grace:  Then once more on the road.  Picture him on the road:  In rain or sunshine, his feet in wooden stirrups attached to the saddle by cords which cut into his legs, the unending dust from the trampling of the crowd, the chanting of psalms and the never ending crunch of feet, and the incidents and the accidents and the care he must have for all his vast company.  There was one meal a day – soup and a tiny piece of fish, washed down with wine liberally watered.  He never had an evening meal.  Then he arrives at the next village to be won to our Lord, the next town to be set in order.  The usual tumult and acclamations and idle questions and plain annoyances besieged him – clipping pieces out of his habit, kissing his hands – and everybody taking possession of him – a hundred people if there were a hundred, a thousand if there were a thousand, more if there were more, as many as there might be.  Then there was the usual platform where he must say in the evening what he had said in the morning, differently phrased but just as fresh and convincing, and the usual miracles which he must always be asking of God when his eloquence gained nothing or not enough – for unless it gained everything, there always remained something still to gain:  God must attend to it – and that meant miracles.  The crowd was at last disposed of, but, before going to bed – five hours sleep, never more, and no siesta, not even in Spain – he still had to make his meditation, get his office said, instruct and direct his companions, prepare tomorrow's sermons, deal with his post, get off answers to bishops, princes, city magistrates, directors of confraternities, priors of convents, the Pope himself and any number of mere nuisances – on every conceivable subject, by no means always concerned with religion.  And, in addition, you should reckon the time he loved to devote to religious ceremonies – for he was a convinced liturgist and would have his ceremonies as correct and as magnificent as possible.  This gives some idea of the routine of his days – week after week, month after month, for twenty years.  And he held and did not break.  He said one day to a group of priests,  "The moment you wake, to God's work!  Identify yourselves with Christ.  At such an hour, He was brought before Pilate, at such an hour the Jews cried out against Him, at such another hour, He gave up the ghost."
That indeed was the secret of his own resistance.  We may be certain that he followed to the letter the precious counsel he gave others, followed it hour by hour exactly, passionately and simply.  Living the passion of Christ in his body, heart and mind, he found all things came easily; almost pleasantly.  Christ was the other self within him:  His words, works, sufferings, flowed as freely from Christ as his miracles.  Hence the humility that lived within his awareness of his greatness; hence his patience against all the difficulties of life, all the trials of faith, and all the disappointments of Charity; hence the superabundance of gifts which on the human plane overflowed in achievement and on the divine plane blazed forth in miracles.
He came one time to the bedside of a sinner, to assist him in his last agony.  The sinner clung to the saint; he felt that his tardy remorse, his imperfect contrition, his absence of penance, were insufficient to save him unless St. Vincent threw the whole of himself into the scale.  He begged Vincent to make over to him a good share of the treasures of grace he had compiled.  The saint had pity on his despair.  He said:  "I give God all my merits to be applied to you."  "Is that true?"  The dying man was mistrustful:  He did not know that what a saint says is definite. "Then write it down for me on a slip of paper.  The saint cheerfully did what he was asked and the man died clutching his precious document. Logically, Vincent had nothing left – he must begin to pile up another lot of graces to himself.  But a few days later, while he was preaching, a paper whirled in the air above the heads of the crowd, like a dead leaf blown along by the wind.  Finally it settled on the preacher's cloak.  I need not tell you what it was.  God had decided to pay for the sinner's salvation in a different coin.  He returned Vincent his merits along with his check.  For you never lose by the gift of one's self unless you only half give it.
Whoever approached Vincent felt something about him, like the hot breath of a hidden fire.  So it was with the boy at Caen, possessed by devils from the day when a careless barber had pierced a tumor.  The boy had lost the use of speech, did not eat or drink, and had no bodily motions except the blood that spurted from his nostrils whenever he was angered.  If they beat him, he felt nothing.  He grew physically, but in a frightful solitude of a human being who knew no human contact or communication, nor pain nor pleasure.  Then Vincent came to him and touched him.  "What do you feel, my son?"  he asked.  And the child, set free of what had possessed him, cried:  "Father, I feel God's good pleasure which is accomplished at this moment." God's good pleasure passed through that hand which He never withheld.
At Pampeluna, they had just condemned an innocent man to death.  Vincent pleaded for him in vain.  As he was being led to the scaffold, they passed a corpse being taken to burial on a stretcher.  Vincent suddenly addressed the corpse:  "You who have no longer anything to gain by lying, is this man guilty?  Answer me!"  The dead man sat up and affirmed, "He is not." Then Vincent, to reward him for that service, offered the dead man, who was settling down again on the stretcher, to give him back the burden of earthly life.  "No, Father," he replied, "for I am assured of salvation." And he went off to sleep again and was carried to the cemetery.
There is another episode stranger still if not more marvelous.  It happened at Gerona.  In the thick of the crowd stood a man somber, glowering, rage stamped on every feature:  Near him was his wife with an infant in her arms, still at the breast.  The man was devoured by a frenzy of jealousy.  Brother Vincent saw him, saw what fire burned in him, and preached upon Jealousy. Suddenly he turned to the man.  "You doubt your wife's faithfulness, do you not?  You think this child is not yours?  Well, watch!"  Then he cried in a great voice to the child:  "Embrace your father!"  The infant stirred, stood upright, turned towards the man and held out its arms.  And thus was the man cured and the family peace restored.
It seems that he touched each heart at the point he chose, the point that charity suggested to him, and invariably at the precise moment.  He knew for example that a shepherd in the heart of the mountains had so great confidence in him that he came to hear him, leaving his flock, only staying to draw a circle round them with his staff – counting on the saint to see that the sheep did not go out of the circle or the wolves come into it. Vincent knew it, whether he had guessed it or read it in the man's eyes; or perhaps God revealed to him the poor shepherd's naive arrangement and let him know that He meant to grant his prayer.  At any rate, Vincent told him before all the crowd:  "Your sheep are safe; God is watching over them." Similarly, we are told that mothers did not hesitate to leave their babies to come to his sermons:  They confided the infants to the angels – as Vincent advised them to.  He doubted nothing, this man – God least of all.
There was the very famous miracle of the wine cask which would not run dry while the crowd of Vincent's followers still needed to drink.  It is worth adding that ten years later, the owner of the cask, the Seigneur Saint-Just, met a man who gave evidence in the canonization process and assured him that in all those years he had given that miraculous wine to the sick:  That no matter what their malady, they were cured:  That the wine grew no less though he drew from the cask every day.  It would seem that charity once installed in that cask was unwilling to leave it.  Charity indeed he left behind him everywhere, impregnating everything he touched. Once, for lack of alms – his purse being empty – he gave a poor woman his hat.  "Thank you...  But what do you expect me to do with it?"  Anyhow she took it away with her and that evening, at the gates of Valencia, it struck her to put it on the head of an inn-keeper who was unwilling to give her lodging.  He was in an evil temper, having a raging headache. "Perhaps Master Vincent's hat will cure it." It did.  The inn-keeper put it aside to use when the need should arise again.  The hat was to be seen for long after but in a pitiable condition – for he had had the notion of soaking it in water from time to time and it seems that this incredible hat-broth had cured his customers of all sorts of minor ailments.
Sometimes one asks oneself if it is possible to believe, so enormous are some of the things we are told he did.  The miracle at Morella, for instance, is an exact reproduction of the famous miracle of St. Nicholas when he brought back to life the three children in the salting-tub.  One is tempted to think that some unscrupulous biographer made the whole thing up.  Here is the story.  There was a certain woman of great virtue but subject to attacks of nerves, which came very close to madness.  One day, in the absence of her husband who had the preacher lodged in the house and had gone out to hear him preach, her mental affliction came upon her and she cut her small son's throat.  She then went on to chop him up and roasted a portion of him.  This she gave to her husband on his return from listening to the sermon.  The man found out somehow what had happened, and at the last point of horror and disgust, rushed out to tell the saint.  Vincent realized at once that heaven could not have allowed a happening so monstrous save as an occasion for a most signal manifestation of God's power.  He came, prayed, gathered together the bleeding pieces of the child and said to the father,  "If you have faith, God who created this little soul from nothing can bring him back to life." He fell on his knees and the impossible happened.  The child was alive again, whole and entire.
Consider the story of the two men consumed at Zamora.  These were two criminals before whom Master Vincent preached for three hours in the presence of an enormous crowd.  We know that he brought them to such a horror of their crime, depicted with such cruel and gripping realism the flames of hell, that when the guards came to bring them back to prison they found only two charred corpses.  Remorse – and, we may hope, repentance – had literally consumed them.  They were buried in front of the steeple beneath two stones which stood for centuries to attest the fact.  One day a Portuguese man who passed that way and to whom the story was told, shrugged his shoulders skeptically.  "I will believe it," he cried, "when one of the immense stones splits." He tapped one with the toe of his boot and it split clean in two from top to bottom.  Since that is the story we are told, why not?  At any rate, when you are dealing with miracles, do not commit the vulgarity of dragging in the question of likelihood.
Yes, the blind see; the deaf hear; paralytics walk; the plague-stricken are healed; the faithless believe; sinners repent; the unstable grow steadfast; the idle find energy; sworn enemies embrace; the hard of heart find their hearts on fire.  And beside the miracles that affect men, storms are stilled, rain stops, rocks are split, lightning flashes from the sky.  Heaven itself opens and saints, angels, the Mother of God and her Son come forth.  What must be must be – God will have it so.  The prayer of a saint is omnipotent – if God decides to grant it.  "Christ can do nothing," cried an obstinate sinner in Brothers Vincent's face.  "I shall lose my soul if I please." There was the claim of human liberty.  "I shall save you by Him, in spite of yourself," replied the preacher.  There was the claim of the omnipotence of a redemption purchased by the blood of God.  Vincent leaned over the crowd.  "Say the Rosary!"  The Creed was said and the Our Father.  The Hail Marys followed one another on the beads.  From Heaven, thus stormed by prayer, the Virgin Mother in person descended, holding in her arms the Child Jesus – sobbing.  At that sight the sinner broke down, surrendered.  The will for evil was conquered without a struggle by the will of Grace.
 
Last Years
Normandy and Brittany were the theater of the apostle's labors the two last years of his life.  He was then so worn out and weak that he was scarce able to walk a step without help; yet no sooner was he in the pulpit but he spoke with as much strength, ardor, eloquence, and unction as he had done in the vigor of his youth.  He restored to health on the spot one that had been bedridden eighteen years, in the presence of a great multitude, and wrought innumerable other miracles, amongst which we may reckon as the greatest the conversion of an incredible number of souls.  He inculcated everywhere a detestation of lawsuits, swearing, lying and other sins, especially of blasphemy.
As his health started failing, his companions persuaded him to return to his own country.  Accordingly he set out with that view, riding on an ass, as was his ordinary manner of traveling in long journeys.  But after they were gone, as they imagined, a considerable distance, they found themselves again near the city of Vannes.  Wherefore the saint perceiving his illness increase, determined to return into the town, saying to his companions that God had chosen that city for the place of his burial.  The joy of the city was incredible when he appeared again, but it was allayed when he told them he had come, not to continue his ministry among them, but to look for his grave.  These words, joined with a short exhortation which he made to impress on the people's mind their duty to God, made many shed tears, and threw all into an excess of grief.  His fever increasing, he prepared himself for death by exercises of piety and devoutly receiving the sacraments.  On the third day the bishop, clergy, magistrates, and part of the nobility made him a visit.  He conjured them to maintain zealously what he had labored to establish amongst them, exhorted them to perseverance in virtue, and promised to pray for them when he should be before the throne of God, saying he should go to the Lord after ten days.  His prayer and union with God he never interrupted.  The magistrates sent a deputation to him, desiring he would choose the place of his burial.  They were afraid his Order, which had then no convent in Vannes, would deprive the city of his remains.  The saint answered that, being an unprofitable servant and a poor religious man, it did not become him to direct anything concerning his burial; however, he begged they would preserve peace after his death, as he always inculcated to them in his sermons, and that they would be pleased to allow the prior of the convent of his Order which was the nearest to that town to have the disposal of the place of his burial.  He continued his aspirations of love, contrition, and penance; and often wished the departure of his soul from its fleshy prison, that it might the more speedily be swallowed up in the ocean of all good.  On the tenth day of his illness he caused the passion of our Savior to be read to him, and after that recited the penitential psalms, often stopping totally absorbed in God.  It was on Wednesday in Passion Week, the 5th of April, that he slept in the Lord, in the year 1419.  When he expired a host of little white butterflies fluttered around his head. These were little "angels" to take the Angel of Judgment home and to attest to his purity and holiness. There was even a "piercingly sweet odor" which arose from his body. Joan of France, daughter of King Charles VI, Duchess of Brittany, washed his corpse with her own hands.   God showed innumerable miracles by that water and by the saint's habit, girdle, instruments of penance, and other relics, of which the details may be read in the Bollandists.
The death of St. Vincent Ferrer did not check the flowing of the spring which his merits and penances and love had opened in the rock of Mercy inexhaustible.  They laid two corpses in his tomb before they sealed it. Just as the touch of his habit wrought miracles during his life, so did the touch of his grave: two dead people were brought to life when placed upon it!  Nor is that an isolated incident.  The inquiry set on foot at Vannes for the process of his canonization brought to light an incredible mass of miraculous happenings, sudden conversions, cures, apparitions, and a surprising number of resurrections from the dead. Falls, drownings, murderous assaults, illnesses – he intervened in all and was always being invoked.
Petition for his canonization was universal and immediate from kings, bishops, universities, nobles and peasantry. Pope Nicholas V issued a bull to inquire into the life, heroic sanctity and miracles of Saint Vincent. The Duke of Brittany even levied a tax to defray expenses for the process.
According to Vincent's own prophecy, Alphonsus Borgia who was elected to the Papacy and became Callixtus III, did indeed canonize him. The canonization was held on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 1455, in the Dominican Church of Rome, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. The body was found to be incorrupt on that day. During the Mass of canonization, two dead persons were covered with the cloak in which Saint Vincent had been buried. They were both restored to life. Also, the Duke of Brittany's relative was cured of leprosy that day and a blind man was restored to sight.
Fifty years after St. Vincent's death, a boy of twelve, Juan de Zuniga, died at Placenzia.  A prayer to St. Vincent brought him back to life.  He lived to be Cardinal Archbishop of Seville.  A cathedral was built in commemoration of the event.  On the day they were celebrating the Saint's feast, the preacher failed to appear – he had suddenly fallen ill.  The embarrassment would have been serious only that a Dominican father, absolutely unknown, appeared from nowhere and offered to take his place. He went up into the pulpit, preached and was seen no more.  It was St. Vincent Ferrer, naturally, since he is always present upon earth, in action if not in person.  There seems to be no other possible explanation of the sudden appearance and disappearance of the preacher.
During his life Saint Vincent freed more than seventy people from the Devil and many more were freed at his tomb. He raised more than twenty-eight people from the dead and four hundred sick people were cured by resting on the couch where he had lain during his illness.
The change of a sinful heart is even a greater miracle than wondrous temporal benefits. Saint Vincent was not wanting here as we have seen; thousands of sinners became penitent, including Jews and Moors.
Wherein was the great success of this humble, friar-preacher? First, he was a living image of the Crucified. He was gentle and patient and never murmured a word of complaint. He loved poverty and his purity consisted in excluding all thoughts that did not tend towards God. He preserved this awesome purity by obedience. As great as he was, he excelled more than anyone in submitting to his superiors. Second, he was an imitator of his spiritual father, Saint Dominic. It was said of Saint Dominic that he was "a light of the word, a dazzling reflection of Jesus Christ, a rose of patience, another precursor and a master in the science of souls." Vincent was a worthy disciple who would himself protest that he was only imitating his holy founder. God is glorified in His saints!
The Angel of the Apocalypse provides us with some valuable lessons. Of course, no one knows the day nor the hour of the Second Coming, but we can imitate Saint Vincent in his penitential life so as to be ready at all times to meet Our Judge. We will have little to fear if we combine that penitential life with the humility and love for Jesus and Mary that Saint Vincent had. His intercession, once so powerful on earth, has surely only increased in Heaven. Pray to him in confidence and he will no doubt intercede for you before his beloved Master, Jesus Christ and his most beautiful Queen, Mary, the Mother of God.
The great humility of this saint appeared amidst the honors and applause which followed him.  He lays down this principle as the preliminary to all virtue that a person be deeply grounded in humility "For whosoever will proudly dispute or contradict, will always stand without the door. Christ, the master of humility, manifests His truth only to the humble and hides Himself from the proud."

Only through the one, true religion has a dead person ever been brought back to life.  We see the first recorded accounts of the dead being raised in the Old Testament; the great prophets Elias and Eliseus raised at least three persons who had died.
In the New Testament, following the example of the Divine Founder of our Holy Religion, Saints Peter and Paul also raised several persons from the dead.  The fact is that only through the Roman Catholic Church, from the time of Our Lord until today, has anyone been brought back from the grave!  (Have you ever heard any reports of a Lutheran, Baptist, Jehovah's Witness, Evangelical Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. making any such claim?)
The list of Catholic saints who have performed resurrection miracles appears endless!  (St. Hilary, St. Ambrose, St. Martin of Tours, St. Benedict, St. Bernard, St. Anthony, just to name a few, and the tally goes on).  St. Vincent Ferrer raised at least twenty-eight persons.  St. Joan of Arc brought a stillborn baby back to life long enough for it to be baptized.  St. Patrick of Ireland raised nearly forty people from the dead many of whom had been dead and buried for years.
Hundreds of these resurrection miracles are well documented and authenticated; not only by Catholic sources, but also by many secular and historical records as well.



www.olrl.org/lives/

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Christ Child Crucified on Mount Pichincha



Dear Child Jesus of Pichincha, I humbly kneel before Thee, worn and disillusioned by the world and all its empty pleasures and promises. I have left the warmth and joy of Thy house to eat husks with the swine. I beseech Thee to purify my heart and restore my innocence. I humbly beseech Thy Loving and Gracious Heart to forgive, and even forget, my past and to grant me the grace to begin anew. I beg not only for my restoration, but for that of the world, and above all, for that of our beloved Holy Catholic Church, which is so beleaguered and persecuted. Through the infinite merits of Thy Holy Childhood, I feel confident that my prayer will be answered. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be... 

In 1628 Our Lady of Good Success, carrying the Christ Child, appeared to a nun in Quito, Ecuador and said: "Lift up your eyes now and look at Pichinicha Mountain where you will see this Divine Infant Whom I carry in my arms crucified." The Christ Child approached the Cross, placed the crown of thorns on His Head, extended His arms on the Cross and said: "I can do no more to show my love for you. Ungrateful souls repay the great love and attentions of My Heart with contempt, sacrileges and blasphemies."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

St. Angela Merici

March 27th is the optional memorial of St. Angela Merici, the foundress of the Ursulines. Angela was born on March 21, 1474 at Desenzano, Lake Garda, Italy and died on January 27, 1540 in Brescia.
Angela’s parents died when she was only ten years old. Together, with her older sister, she moved to the nearby town of Salo, to live with her uncle. When her sister died quite suddenly without receiving the last sacraments, Angela was deeply upset. At the age of 15, she became a Franciscan tertiary and greatly increased her prayers and sacrifices for the repose of her sister's soul. She asked God to reveal to her the condition of her deceased sister and He answered her prayer by showing her through a vision that her sister was in Heaven.

When her uncle died, she returned to live at Desenzano to make a life for herself. She was convinced of the need for women to be educated in their faith and converted her home into a school where she daily gathered all the girls of Desenzano and taught them the basics of Christianity. It was at this time that she received a vision, which led her to found a religious order who were to devote their lives to the spiritual education of young women. The school she established at Desenzano was so successful that she was invited to the nearby city of Brescia, to establish a school there, which she accepted.

During a pilgrimage to Holy Land, while visiting Crete, Angela was struck blind. This did not interrupt her trip, however, but she continued on the journey, visiting the shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she still had her sight. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was miraculously restored at the same place where it had been lost.

In 1525, Pope Clement VII, who had heard of her great holiness and her success as a religious teacher of young girls, invited her to remain in Rome; however, Angela returned to Brescia to live a quiet life, away from the limelight.

In 1535, Angela selected twelve women and laid the foundation of the order of the Ursulines in a small house near the Church of St. Afra in Brescia. She died only five years later. St. Angela's body is incorrupt. She was beatified in 1768 by Pope Clement XIII and canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII.

Patronage: She is the patron saint of physically challenged people, sick people, and of those who have lost their parents.

Quotes From St. Angela Merci:

"Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family."

"We must give alms. Charity wins souls and draws them to virtue."

"Mothers of children, even if they have a thousand, carry each and every one fixed in their hearts, and because of the strength of their love they do not forget any of them. In fact, it seems that the more children they have the more their love and care for each one is increased."

St. Angela Merici -- A Prayer of Remembrance

Angela, a valiant woman, inspire us today to be people of faith,
people of action, people in love with God and all creation.
May we be makers of peace in a wounded world.
May we be creators of justice in a broken world.
May we be passionate and compassionate in a indifferent world.
You who traveled the road before us, be with us as you promised.
May the example of your pilgrim heart encourage us on our journey.
Amen. ~ Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Feast of St. Joseph - the most forgotten Saint!

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Patron of the Universal Church

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal church is commemorated on On March 19. He is one of the most important Saint in the Catholic Church, second to the Blessed Mother. He was faithful, patient man, obedient to the demands of God and willingly accepted the hardships. St. Matthew calls him "a just man", illustrated by his loyalty in protecting and providing for his family. In 1870, Pius IX declared him patron and protector of the universal family of the Church.


St. Joseph was an ordinary manual laborer although descended from the royal house of David. In the designs of Providence he was destined to become the spouse of the Mother of God. His high privilege is expressed in a single phrase, "Foster-father of Jesus." He was given the great privilege of taking care of God's own Son, Jesus. He had to work very hard in his carpenter shop, but he did not mind. He was happy to work for his little family. He loved Jesus and Mary so much. He took Mary in the mystery of her motherhood and acted in obedient faith. He was humble and pure, gentle and wise. Jesus and Mary loved him and obeyed him because God had placed him as the head of their family.

About him Sacred Scripture has little more to say than that he was a just man-an expression which indicates how faithfully he fulfilled his high trust of protecting and guarding God's greatest treasures upon earth, Jesus and Mary. We place our confidence in his protection because he protected the Church family just as he protected the Holy Family. St. Joseph is a great saint.


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The Happy Death of Saint Joseph In the Visions of Venerable Mary Agreda from The Mystical City of God

Already eight years saint Joseph had been exercised by his infirmities and sufferings, and his noble soul been purified more and more each day in the crucible of affliction and of divine love. As the time passed his bodily strength gradually diminished and he approached the unavoidable end, in which the stipend of death is paid by all of us children of Adam (Heb. 9, 27). In like manner also increased the care and solicitude of his heavenly Spouse, our Queen, assisting and serving him with unbroken punctuality. Perceiving, in her exalted wisdom, that the day and hour for his departure from this cumbrous earth was very near, the loving Lady betook Herself to her blessed Son and said to Him: "Lord God Most High, Son of the eternal Father and Savior of the world, by thy divine light I see the hour approaching which thou hast decreed for the death of thy servant Joseph. I beseech Thee, by thy ancient mercies and by thy infinite bounty, to assist him in that hour by thy almighty power. Let his death be as precious in thy eyes, as the uprightness of his life was pleasing to Thee, so that he may depart in peace and in the hope of the eternal reward to be given to him on the day in which Thou shalt open the gates of heaven for all the faithful. Be mindful, my Son, of the humility and love of thy servant; of his exceeding great merits and virtues; of the fidelity and solicitude by which this just man has supported Thee and me, thy humble handmaid, in the sweat of his brow."

Our Savior answered: "My Mother, thy request is pleasing to me, and the merits of Joseph are acceptable in my eyes. I will now assist him and will assign him a place among the princes of my people (Ps. 115, 15), so high that he will be the admiration of the angels and will cause them and all men to break forth in highest praise. With none of the human born shall I do as with thy spouse." The great Lady gave thanks to her sweetest Son for this promise; and, for nine days and nights before the death of saint Joseph he uninterruptedlyenjoyed the company and attendance of Mary or her divine Son. By command of the Lord the holy angels, three times on each of the nine days, furnished celestial music, mixing their hymns of praise with the benedictions of the sick man. Moreover, their humble but most precious dwelling was filled with the sweetest fragrance and odors so wonderful that they comforted not only saint Joseph, but invigorated all the numerous persons who happened to come near the house.

One day before he died, being wholly inflamed with divine love on account of these blessings, he was wrapped in an ecstasy which lasted twenty-four hours. The Lord himself supplied Joseph the strength he needed for this miracle. In this ecstasy he saw clearly the divine Essence, and, manifested therein, all that he had believed by faith the incomprehensible Divinity, the mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption, the militant Church with all its Sacraments and mysteries. The blessed Trinity commissioned and assigned him as the messenger of our Savior to the holy Patriarchs and Prophets of limbo; and commanded him to prepare them for their issuing forth from this bosom of Abraham to eternal rest and happiness. All this most holy Mary saw reflected in the soul of her divine Son together with all the other mysteries, just as they had been made known to her beloved spouse and She offered her sincerest thanks for all this to her Lord.

When saint Joseph issued from this ecstasy his face shone with wonderful splendor and his soul was transformed by his vision of the essence of God. He asked his blessed Spouse to give him her benediction; but She requested her divine Son to bless him in her stead, which He did. Then the great Queen of humility, falling on her knees, besought saint Joseph to bless Her, as being her husband and head. Not without divine impulse the man of God fulfilled this request for the consolation of his most prudent Spouse. She kissed the hand with which he blessed Her and asked him to salute the just ones of limbo in her name. The most humble Joseph, sealing his life with an act of self-abasement, asked pardon of his heavenly Spouse for all his deficiencies in her service and love and begged Her to grant him her assistance and intercession in this hour of passing away. The holy man also rendered humblest thanks to her Son for all the blessings of his life and especially for those received during this sickness. The last words which saint Joseph spoke to his Spouse were: "Blessed art Thou among all women and elect of all the creatures. Let angels and men praise Thee; let all the generations know, praise and exalt thy dignity; and may in Thee be known, adored and exalted the name of the Most High through all the coming ages; may He be eternally praised for having created Thee so pleasing in his eyes and in the sight of all the blessed spirits. I hope to enjoy thy sight in the heavenly fatherland."

Then this man of God, turning toward Christ, our Lord, in profoundest reverence, wished to kneel before Him. But the sweetest Jesus, coming near, received him in his arms, where, reclining his head upon them, Joseph said: "My highest Lord and God, Son of the eternal Father, Creator and Redeemer of the World, give thy blessing to thy servant and the works of thy hand; pardon, O most merciful King, the faults which I have committed in thy service and interactions. I extol and magnify Thee and render eternal and heartfelt thanks to Thee for having, in thy ineffable condescension, chosen me to be the spouse of thy true Mother; let thy greatness and glory be my thanksgiving for all eternity." The Redeemer of the world gave him his benediction, saying: "My father, rest in peace and in the grace of my eternal Father and mine; and to the Prophets and Saints, who await thee in limbo, bring the joyful news of the approach of their redemption." At these words of Jesus, and reclining in his arms, the most fortunate saint Joseph expired and the Lord himself closed his eyes. At the same time the multitude of the angels, who attended upon their King and Queen, intoned hymns of praise in loud and harmonious voices. By command of the Lord they carried his most holy soul to the gathering-place of the Patriarchs and Prophets, where it was immediately recognized by all as clothed in the splendors of incomparable grace, as the putative father and the intimate friend of the Redeemer, worthy of highest veneration. Conformably to the will and mandate of the Lord, his arrival spread inutterable joy in this countless gathering of the saints by the announcement of their speedy rescue.

It is necessary to mention that the long sickness and sufferings which preceded the death of saint Joseph was not the sole cause and occasion of his passing away; for with all his infirmities he could have extended the term of his life, if to them he had not joined the fire of the intense love within his bosom. In order that his death might be more the triumph of his love than of the effects of original sin, the Lord suspended the special and miraculous assistance by which his natural forces were enabled to withstand the violence of his love during his lifetime. As soon as this divine assistance was withdrawn, nature was overcome by his love and the bonds and chains, by which this most holy soul was detained in its mortal body, were at once dissolved and the separation of the soul from the body in which death consists took place. Love was then the real cause of the death of saint Joseph, as I have said above. This was at the same time the greatest and most glorious of all his infirmities for in it death is but a sleep of the body and the beginning of real life.

The most fortunate of men, saint Joseph reached an age of sixty years and a few days. For at the age of thirty-three he espoused the blessed Virgin lived with Her a little longer than twenty-seven years as her husband. When saint Joseph died, She had completed the half of her forty-second year; for She was espoused to saint Joseph at the age of fourteen (as stated in the first part, book second, chapter twenty-second). The twenty-seven years of her married life completed her forty-first year, to which must be added the time from the eighth of September until the death of her blessed spouse. The Queen of heaven still remained in the same disposition of natural perfection as in her thirty-third year; for, as already stated in the thirteenth chapter of this book, She showed no signs of decline, or of more advanced age, or of weakness, but always in that same most perfect state of womanhood. She felt the natural sorrow due to the death of saint Joseph; for She loved him as her spouse, as a man pre-eminent in perfection and holiness, as her protector and benefactor.

I perceive a certain difference in the graces given to this great Patriarch and those vouchsafed to other saints; for many saints were endowed with graces and gifts that are intended not for the increase of their own sanctity, but for the advance of the service of the Most High in other souls; they were, so to say, gifts and graces freely given and not dependent upon the holiness of the receiver. But in our blessed Patriarch all the divine favors were productive of personal virtue perfection; for the mysterious purpose, toward which they tended and helped along, was closely connected with the holiness of his own life. The more angelic and holy he grew to be, so much the more worthy was he to be the spouse of most holy Mary, the depository and treasure-house of heavenly sacraments. He was to be a miracle of holiness, as he really was. This marvelous holiness commenced with the formation of his body in the womb of his Mother. In this the providence of God himself interfered, regulating the composition of the four radical humors of his body with extreme nicety of proportion and securing for him that evenly tempered disposition which made his body a blessed earth fit for the abode of an exquisite soul and well-balanced mind (Wisdom 8, 19). He was sanctified in the womb of his mother seven months after his conception, and the leaven of sin was destroyed in him for the whole course of life, never having felt any impure or disorderly movement. Although he did not receive the use of his reason together with this first sanctification, which consisted principally in justification from original sin, yet his mother at the time felt a wonderful joy of the Holy Ghost. Without understanding entirely the mystery she elicited great acts of virtue and believed that her Son, or whomever she bore in her womb, would be wonderful in the sight of God and men.

The holy child Joseph was born most beautiful and perfect of body and caused in his parents and in his relations an extraordinary delight, something like that caused by the birth of saint John the Baptist, though the cause of it was more hidden. The Lord hastened the use of his reason, perfecting it in his third year, endowing it with infused science and augmenting his soul with new graces and virtues. From that time the child began to know God by faith, and also by natural reasoning and science, as the cause and Author of all things. He eagerly listened and understood profoundly all that was taught him in regard to God and his works. At this premature age he already practiced the highest kinds of prayer and contemplation and eagerly engaged in the exercise of the virtues proper to his youth ; so that, at the time when others come to the use of reason, at the age of seven years or more, saint Joseph was a perfect man in the use of it and in holiness. He was of a kind disposition, loving, affable, sincere, showing inclinations not only holy but angelic, growing in virtue and perfection and advancing toward his espousal with most holy Mary by an altogether irreproachable life.

For the confirmation and increase of his good qualities was then added the intercession of the blessed Lady; for as soon as She was informed that the Lord wished Her to enter the married state with him, She earnestly besought the Lord to sanctify saint Joseph and inspire him with most chaste thoughts and desires in conformity with her own. The Lord listened to her and permitted Her to see what great effects his right hand wrought in the mind and spirit of the patriarch saint Joseph. They were so copious, that they cannot be described in human words. He infused into his soul the most perfect habits of all the virtues and gifts. He balanced anew all his faculties and filled him with grace, confirming it in an admirable manner. In the virtue and perfection of chastity the holy spouse was elevated higher than the seraphim; for the purity, which they possessed without body, saint Joseph possessed in his earthly body and in mortal flesh; never did an image of the impurities of the animal and sensible nature engage, even for one moment, any of his faculties. This freedom from all such imaginations and his angelic simplicity fitted him for the companionship and presence of the most Pure among all creatures, and without this excellence he would not have been worthy of so great a dignity and rare excellence.

Also in the other virtues he was wonderfully distinguished, especially in charity; for he dwelt at the fountainhead of that living water, which flows on to eternal life (John 4, 14); he was in close proximity to that sphere of fire and was consumed without resistance. The best that can be said of the charity of our saint is what I have already said in the preceding chapter namely, that his love of God was really the cause of his mortal sickness and of his death. The manner of his death was a privilege of his singular love, for his sweet sighs of love surpassed and finally put an end to those of his sickness, being far more powerful. As the objects of his love, Christ and his Mother, were present with him always and as both of Them were more closely bound to him than to any of the woman-born, his most pure and faithful heart was unavoidably consumed by the loving effects of such a close union. Blessed be the Author of such great wonders and blessed be the most fortunate of mortals, saint Joseph, who so worthily corresponded to their love. He deserves to be known and extolled by all the generations of men and all nations since the Lord has wrought such things with no other man and to none has He shown such love.

The divine visions and revelations vouchsafed to saint Joseph, I have particularly mentioned in the course of this history (Vol. II 422, 423, 471); but there were many more than can be described, and the greatest of them was his having known the mysteries of the relation between Christ and his Mother and his having lived in their company for so many years as the putative father of the Lord and as the true spouse of the Queen of heaven. But I have been informed concerning certain other privileges conferred upon saint Joseph by the Most High on account of his great holiness, which are especially important to those who ask his intercession in a proper manner. In virtue of these special privileges the intercession of saint Joseph is most powerful: first, for attaining the virtue of purity and overcoming the sensual inclinations of the flesh; secondly, for procuring powerful help to escape sin and return to the friendship of God; thirdly, for increasing the love and devotion to most holy Mary; fourthly, for securing the grace of a happy death and protection against the demons in that hour; fifthly, for inspiring the demons with terror at the mere mention of his name by his clients; sixthly, for gaining health of body and assistance in all kinds of difficulties; seventhly, for securing issue of children in families. These and many other favors God confers upon those who properly and with good disposition seek the intercession of the spouse of our Queen, saint Joseph. I beseech all the faithful children of the Church to be very devout to him and they will experience these favors in reality, if they dispose themselves as they should in order to receive and merit them.

WORDS OF THE QUEEN. (The Virgin Mary speaks to Sister Mary of Agreda, Spain.)My daughter, although thou hast described my spouse, saint Joseph, as the most noble among the princes and saints of the heavenly Jerusalem; yet neither canst thou properly manifest his eminent sanctity, nor can any of the mortals know it fully before they arrive at the vision of the Divinity. Then all of them will be filled with wonder and praise as the Lord will make them capable of understanding this sacrament. On the last day, when all men shall be judged, the damned will bitterly bewail their sins, which prevented them from appreciating this powerful means of their salvation, and availing themselves, as they easily could have, of this intercessor to gain the friendship of the just Judge. The whole human race has much undervalued the privileges and prerogatives conceded to my blessed spouse and they know not what his intercession with God is able to do. I assure thee, my dearest, that he is one of the greatly favored personages in the divine presence and has immense power to stay the arms of divine vengeance.

I desire that thou be very thankful to the divine condescension for vouchsafing thee so much light and knowledge regarding this mystery, and also for the favor which I am doing thee therein. From now on, during the rest of thy mortal life, see that thou advance in devotion and in hearty love toward my spouse, and that thou bless the Lord for thus having favored him with such high privileges and for having rejoiced me so much in the knowledge of all his excellences. In all thy necessities thou must avail thyself of his intercession. Thou shouldst induce many to venerate him and see that thy own religious distinguish themselves in their devotion. That which my spouse asks of the Lord in heaven is granted upon the earth and on his intercession depend many and extraordinary favors for men, if they do not make themselves unworthy of receiving them. All these privileges were to be a reward for the amiable perfection of this wonderful saint and for his great virtues; for divine clemency is favorably drawn forth by them and looks upon saint Joseph with generous liberality, ready to shower down its marvelous mercies upon all those who avail themselves of his intercession.

Prayers through intercession of St. Joseph:

Prayer To St. Joseph for Protection
Gracious St. Joseph, protect me and my family from all evil as you did the Holy Family. Kindly keep us ever united in the love of Christ, ever fervent in imitation of the virtue of our Blessed Lady, your sinless spouse, and always faithful in devotion to you. Amen. 


Prayer to Saint Joseph to Know One's Vocation
O Great Saint Joseph, you were completely obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Obtain for me the grace to know the state of life that God in his providence has chosen for me. Since my happiness on earth, and perhaps even my final happiness in heaven, depends on this choice, let me not be deceived in making it.

Obtain for me the light to know God's Will, to carry it out faithfully, and to choose the vocation which will lead me to a happy eternity. Amen.
Prayer To St. Joseph
Blessed Joseph, husband of Mary, be with us this day.
You protected and cherished the Virgin;
loving the Child Jesus as your son,
you rescued Him from danger of death.
Defend the Church, the household of God,
purchased by the blood of Christ.

Guardian of the Holy Family,
be with us in our trials.
May your prayers obtain for us
the strength to flee from error
and wrestle with the powers of corruption
so that in life we may grow in holiness
and in death rejoice in the crown of victory.
Amen.
(A partial indulgence.)

Prayer to St. Joseph as Consoler of the Afflicted

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.

O Saint Joseph, my patron and my advocate, to you do I have recourse that you may obtain for me that grace for which I humbly pray. It may well be that the disappointments and the bitterness in my life may be the just punishment for my sins. But even If I should have to recognize my own guilt, need I lose hope in obtaining the help of the Lord? ‘Oh no,’ would be the answer of your devoted client, Saint Theresa, ‘indeed, nor all you poor sinners. No matter how great your needs, turn to the powerful help of Saint Joseph. Go to Saint Joseph with sincere confidence and rest assured that your pleas will be heard.

Following the teaching of Saint Theresa, therefore, I present myself before your glorious throne, 0 Holy Saint Joseph and beg for your powerful intercession in my present tribulations.

Bring my petitions before the throne of God, that by your power and mercy I may obtain that which of myself I would not be worthy to receive. And grant that having obtained the favorable answer to my petition, I may return to your altar and there fulfill my devotion of praise end thanksgiving for your Intercession.

Remember O most merciful foster father of the Lord Jesus, that no one who has ever had recourse to you was left unaided. Countless are the graces and favors which you have obtained in answer to the prayers addressed to you. The sick, the oppressed, those who suffer injustice, the betrayed, the abandoned, in short, all who have had recourse to your protection were aided in their afflictions. O Holy Saint Joseph, do not leave me to be the only one to be deprived of your help. Show yourself kindly and generously even to me, so that my prayers of thanksgiving for your mercy may rebound for the greater glory of God.


O Saint Joseph, head of the Holy Family, I venerate you from the profoundest depth of my heart. To the afflicted who have appealed to you before me, you have granted comfort and peace. Console even my own poor afflicted soul. You know all my needs, Saint Joseph, even before I set them before you in prayers. O powerful Saint Joseph, you know how important this petition is for me. I place all my hope in your intercession.
Grant me the answer to the favor for which I so desperately pray and I pledge myself to spread your devotion everywhere and to support, within the limits of my abilities, those charities which, in your name, aid the afflicted and the dying throughout the world.

Saint Joseph, consoler of the afflicted, have mercy on my Sorrow. Amen.