NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church. This ministry - my "little work" - is strictly a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu. ~ Peter

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Psalm 91: A Prayer of Protection

I'll keep this post short and to the point. With the growing concerns nowadays over the spread of the potentially fatal Coronavirus, I felt strongly inspired - compelled, in fact - to post this Psalm for readers to recite. This particular Psalm has been valued for centuries by Jews and Christians, alike, as a prayer of deliverance and protection; it fits the present situation perfectly... SO ARM YOURSELVES - PRAY IT DAILY.


He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of Yahweh, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers. Under his wings you will take refuge. His faithfulness is your shield and rampart.

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes, and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made Yahweh your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. For he will put his angels in charge of you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, so that you won’t dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and cobra. You will trample the young lion and the serpent underfoot.

“Because he has set his love on me, therefore I will deliver him. I will set him on high, because he has known my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him, and honor him. I will satisfy him with long life, and show him my salvation.”

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Saints of the Month - February 2020: The 7 Holy Servite Founders

The Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order
Feast ~ February 17th

The Friar Servants of Mary, also popularly known as the "Servites", is an illustrious Order that was inspired into being in the Thirteenth Century, by the Madonna, herself... and it has maintained and promoted devotion to her ever since, particularly under her title of Our Lady of Sorrows.

It all began circa 1233, with seven merchants from Florence, Italy. These men, despite their wealth and status, were highly devout members of a lay association dedicated to honoring the Blessed Virgin. According to several accounts, while praying together in church, they were collectively privileged with an apparition of Mary, who directed them to forego the world for lives of prayer, penance, and meditation. Following this decisive experience, the group unanimously decided to withdraw together in solitude away from the distractions of their former lives. They settled their affairs, distributed their personal belongings to the poor, and bid farewell to their respective families before retiring to a place called Villa Camarzia in the outskirts of Florence. There, under the direction of a priest, they lived in poverty, relying on charity to feed themselves; following a strict program of spiritual discipline and prayer. 

Not surprisingly, the departure of the seven caused a major sensation in Florence and the surrounding region. Some derided the men as lunatics but, more so, many came to regard them as living saints because of the austere and penitential lives they led. Soon, many were flocking to Villa Camarzia, seeking out the group for prayer requests, counsel, or to join them.  It proved to be a growing disruption to their humble mode of life. 

In 1234 the original members and their aspirants relocated to the top of a remote mountain - Monte Senario - where they hoped to enjoy more peace and quiet. They built a complex of small individual hermitages around a chapel dedicated to Our Lady… but the move proved to be futile.  Rumors of their new whereabouts spread rapidly and the visits from outsiders resumed.

The Servite Monastery on the mountain of Monte  Senario, Italy.

Another heavenly visit from the Mother of Christ in 1240 provided the group with further guidance - Mary instructed the founders to adopt the Augustinian Rule, while showing them a black habit that she wished them all to wear, moving forward.  Again, the seven complied, and their subsequent actions led to the formal establishment of the Order of the Friar Servants of Mary, aka the Servites. 

The Servite Order grew quickly and realizing that it was impossible to completely detach themselves from the world, they expanded their work to include charitable service to the poor and the sick in nearby cities and hamlets, as well as conducted preaching missions (to combat the errors spread by the Cathari and other heretical sects).  The Order was officially approved by Pope Alexander IV in 1256. 

In the meantime, while the Order blossomed and thrived, the Servite Founders occupied the rest of their lives with continued practice of virtue, enriched by extraordinary charism bestowed by the Blessed Virgin and the Holy Spirit. Several served in leadership capacity while others fired up the fledgling community by their service and faith-examples. The seven died between the years 1262 and 1310.  Below are their names and a brief summary of their attributes: 

Our Lady, herself, bestowed the black habit
of the Servites to the Seven Founders.

+ ST. BONFIGLIO MONALDI was the original leader of the lay association to which the seven first belonged to. As such, he was nominated as the first Prior of the budding Order of the Servites, a role he fulfilled admirably.  He died on January 1, 1262.

+ ST. BARTOLOMEO AMIDEI was known for his exceptional charity and fervent love for God, which inspired all he came into contact with. It was a fitting attribute since his family name in English translates to “Love God”.  His death occurred on April 18, 1266. 

+ ST. GIOVANNI BONAGIUNTA was known for his strict austerity towards himself, but was affable towards his brethren. He was elected Prior between 1256 and 1257 and served the position worthily.  He died on August 31, 1267. 

+ ST. MANETTO ANTELLA also once served as the Order’s Prior. Under his wise and capable leadership, the Servites were successfully established in France.  His death occurred on August 20, 1268. 

+ ST. GHERARDINO SOSTEGNO & ST. RICOVERO UGUCCIONI were particularly close - the embodiment of spiritual brotherhood. Through their friendship, they encouraged and supported each other, along with the rest of the Servites, in their ascent to the heights of sanctity.  Both reportedly died, hours apart, on the same date - May 3, 1282. 

+ ST. ALESSIO FALCONIERI was celebrated for his outstanding spirit of purity and humility. He reportedly declined the opportunity to become a priest in order to remain a simple brother in service of his brethren. He is also the paternal uncle to St. Juliana Falconieri, the foundress of the female branch of the Servites.  St. Alessio was the last of the seven to die on February 17, 1310 at nearly 110-years-old. 

Pope Leo VIII collectively canonized these great holy men in 1888. Their relics are enshrined together in the main church of their Order on Monte Senario.  May they pray for our individual needs and for the needs of our Catholic Church.

The First Saturday Rosary... and a Signal Grace from the Mediatrix of All Grace

It's been quite a while since I posted about it, but it's still going on.  I'm referring to the First Saturday Rosary for Peace at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua where we're still holding it every month... and blessings continue to be poured out - sometimes visibly.  In fact, at today's meeting, we were surprised by a manifestation of a familiar signal grace - escarchas.  I haven't posted about escarchas for some time, too, but the phenomenon is still occurring, although intermittently.

A few of us regulars at today's First
Saturday Rosary Meeting.

So this afternoon our parishioners met again to pray the Holy Rosary - about 15 of us, despite cold rainy weather today.  Other than the profound sense of peace that descended into the Day Chapel during our prayer, there were no other tangible indications of a divine presence... but after we finished, things took a turn for the extraordinary.

Mary, the "Mediatrix of
All Grace" of Lipa

For this month's gathering, I had brought my recently acquired Marian statue to the meeting - a likeness of Mary, the Mediatrix of all Grace from Lipa, Philippines -  and a friend who was seeing the statue for the first time approached it to get a closer view. As I watched her admiring it, she nonchalantly said, "There's glitter on the Blessed Mother's face." Me and another remaining participant immediately went to look at the image, ourselves, and sure enough, the statue's left cheek was sparkling with tiny silver flakes. I knew right away they were escarchas because the statue isn't decorated with any type of glitter.

Furthermore, as we three looked on, the escarchas multiplied and spread to the right cheek... then to the forehead... down the neck... and onto the Holy Mother's gown. It goes without saying we were awestruck. If I didn't witness it with my own eyes, I think I would be skeptical... but I now know from personal experiences this particular sign really does occur... and it's beautiful! The escarchas were mostly very fine speckles so they were difficult to capture on film, but a few of the larger ones are visible in these two videos...

Some of the escarchas on the
statue's cheek can clearly be seen in
the videos above and below.

I left the Church extra grateful and excited tonight. I encountered Mary through the Rosary in the Day Chapel... then encountered Jesus through the Eucharist during the Mass in the main church.  It was more than a good day!

Still-photos capturing just a few of the many
escarchas on the image's cheeks and neck.