Disclaimer

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


Saturday, September 2, 2017

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 9/2/2017


An accurate portrait of St. Teresa 
Margaret of the Sacred Heart, painted 
soon after her death in 1770.
GOD IS LOVE.  This one phrase from 1 John 4:16 became our main focus for today's First Saturday Rosary, thanks to the Saint we venerated this evening. She - St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart - heard that phrase during a sermon and it affected her soul in a mysterious, powerful way. I can only speculate that the Saint had surrendered herself completely to the sublime implications of those words... and, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, it brought her to an instantaneous and overwhelming personal realization of God's unconditional love for her; lighting her soul ablaze with the fire of Divine Love!  In turn, the resulting joy and fulfillment it brought her motivated the nun to respond by sharing the same Love with others, through the active expression of it to all who she came into contact with.

Being a cloistered Discalced Carmelite, St. Teresa Margaret could only express herself - the Divine Love burning inside her - within the walls of Carmel... but, still, she did it magnificently and it eventually led to Sainthood for her. So prior to beginning the Rosary Prayer, I asked the prayer participants to reflect on the very same scripture passage - God is Love - and to challenge themselves as to how they, too, like our Saint of the Month, can positively respond to God's Love operating in their own lives.

As for our Rosary, it was simply beautiful... yet again. I used our prayer time as an opportunity to put into practice the challenge I made to the others, and did my best to open my heart to any inspirations of Divine Love, as reflected in the Glorious Mysteries we contemplated... and I wasn't disappointed.  I felt the comforting "presence" of Jesus and Mary in the Day Chapel as we prayed.

And not surprisingly, after the prayer was finished, several people took the opportunity to approach the display altar to venerate the sacred relics of Our Lady's veil and hair from St. Teresa Margaret.  The inspirational faith-message of the young Carmelite had made an impression - God is Love!

   
This month's display altar... with parishioners venerating the statue & relics after our prayer.

Pertaining to the hair relic, it's a fairly sizable amount that I have in my ministry's custody, not just a few strands of hair in the theca. One would think that it was recently cut from a living person, being that the bundle of hair still appears vibrantly blond despite the passage of nearly 250 years. It's amazing... and each time I venerate this relic, it never fails - I can always picture in my mind how lovely the Saint must have been in life with her long locks of hair cascading down and around her pretty face.

For anyone interested in participating in our monthly prayer meeting at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua... the next First Saturday Rosary for Peace will be offered on October 7th, beginning at 4:25pm.  All are welcome!
   

Friday, September 1, 2017

Saint of the Month, September 2017: St. Rose of Viterbo


Saint Rose of Viterbo
The Little Rose of Viterbo ~ Feast: September 4

This Italian Saint died in the flower of her youth; she was just about 18 when she left this world for a better one.  Yet, what she accomplished within her brief lifetime is astonishing and go way beyond her years.

The chronological details of her life are uncertain but biographers state the year of Rose's birth, as circa 1233. At a very early age, it seems, God was already showing signs of her spiritual greatness - the little girl allegedly performed the first of her many miracles when she was only 3-years-old.  She raised a dead maternal aunt to life by laying hands on her and calling her by name.

Rose was also reported to possess an inclination to the practice of voluntary penances and mortification, and by age 7, lived a near-hermetical life within her home. She would only step out for church and to attend to the needs of the less fortunate. Things changed dramatically for her after she experienced heavenly visitations at age 10. She had been seriously ill for a time and experienced a series of visions of Our Lady who had come to cure her, and Christ Crucified who came to commission her. Rose was directed in these divine encounters to enter the Franciscan Third Order, as well as to preach penance to the people. The child did as she was told and, clothed in the rough sackcloth habit of the Franciscans, set about preaching in the streets with a crucifix in hand.  Stupendous wonders were said to accompany her impromptu sermons.

One great miracle often recounted about Rose occurred while she was speaking to a large assembly of curious onlookers and had stood upon a boulder in order to be seen and heard. At one point in her preaching, an unseen power lifted the boulder along with Rose into the air to the amazement of all who were present. The phenomena lasted the duration of the sermon and, needless to say, many, if not all, were moved to repentance at the sight of it.

   
Two great miracles associated with St. Rose of Viterbo - the miracles
of the levitated boulder and the trial by fire in Vitorchiano.

It's relevant to note that during Rose's life time, Viterbo had fallen under the rule of the excommunicated Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, who was involved in an ongoing dispute with the reigning Pope... and during her public missions Rose staunchly defended the Papacy and the Church. The news of her successful evangelizing efforts, along with her reported spiritual gifts, incurred the enmity of the Emperor's supporters who were in power. The Saint and her family were consequently exiled and took refuge in Soriano then Vitorchiano, where Rose continued her mission of leading sinners back to God.

In Vitorchiano, another public miracle occurred, which is often narrated in the life of St. Rose. There was apparently a sorceress in the city who was either revered by the population or highly feared. Either way, she had great influence over the people. Rose immediately discerned that in order to win over Vitorchiano, she had to defeat the sorceress first... so she challenged her to a trial by fire in order to prove whose power was truly greater - God's or the devil's. The little Saint caused a bonfire to be built and, after it was lit, proceeded to enter into the fire unharmed. She then turned to the sorceress and called for her to enter the fire, too, but the woman was filled with terror. Rose then preached from the center of the flames and easily converted the massive crowd of spectators, including the sorceress, herself.

Circa 1248, control of Viterbo was once again restored to the Papacy. Rose and her family were able to return home in peace, and the youthful prophetess attempted to enter the local convent of Poor Clares. She was refused for the lack of a dowry and perhaps because of her celebrity status as a wonder-worker. Rose accepted the nuns' rejection with resignation, but prophesied that they would come to accept her after her death. She then unsuccessfully tried to establish her own religious community before returning to her father's home to resume a routine of prayer, penance, and charitable work.

In early December 1250, Rose announced that the Emperor Frederick II would soon meet his demise. He died a few days later on December 13th, as predicted. Just a few months after, on March 6, 1251, Rose also unexpectedly passed from what we now know today was a congenital heart defect. Two years after her death, she appeared to Pope Alexander IV who was in Viterbo at the time, with a request that he arrange for the transfer her body to the Poor Clare convent.  It was during the exhumation Rose's body was found in a perfect state of preservation.  She was eventually canonized in 1457 and designated as the Patron Saint of Viterbo.

   
This drawing of St. Rose's lovely features was based on forensic studies conducted
on her miraculously incorrupt body, enshrined in Viterbo.

The incorrupt relic of St. Rose still rests in the loving custody of the Poor Clares, as was also prophesied by the Saint before her death. Blessings and favors of all sorts continue to be reported through the intercession of this extraordinary young woman, and the entire city of Viterbo turns out yearly in September to celebrate the life and legacy of their beloved Patroness.  St. Rose of Viterbo, pray for us!

A Reflection:
In these times of increasing animosity towards the Church and the teachings of Christ, which it upholds, the world is in need of new apostles.

A Short Prayer:
Lord, grant us the courage and zeal of St. Rose in defending your Divine Cause.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Saints & Holy Relics Speaking Presentation, 8/29/2017: Sacred Heart Church, Waianae


The Sacred Heart Church in Waianae (Oahu) once again welcomed my Guadalupe House Lay-Ministry and the hallowed pilgrim visit of various Saints and Blesseds. I was re-invited by the parish’s RCIA group to conduct another presentation about Saints and Relics for their faith community, particularly for a group of teens and adults preparing for their Sacraments of Initiation.  This was my third presentation at this church and despite being a weeknight, an unexpected heavy downpour, and even a flash flood warning, the turnout for the presentation was fantastic.

The Holy Relics of various Saints & Blesseds displayed during my ministry's
Saints & Relics Presentation at Sacred Heart Church, Waianae.

This time around the Saints/Blesseds I featured in my presentation and, whose sacred relics were present, were, as follows: St. Bernadette Soubirous (bone), St. Benedict Joseph Labre (bone), St. Joseph (cloak), Bl. Maria Repetto (bone), Our Lady (veil), Bl. Peter To Rot (leather belt), Bl. Rolando Rivi (hair), Ven. Solanus Casey (clothing) [soon to be beatified in November 2017], St. Teresa of Calcutta (clothing), St. Therese of Lisieux (bone) and her parents – Sts. Louis & Zelie Martin (bones).

As usual with my Saints & Relics Presentations, I emphasized to my audience members the diverse paths of holiness and/or corresponding charisms of each holy role model… and how ALL of us are more than capable of following in their footsteps to attain a degree of personal sanctity… and, eventually, our very own salvation.  I think the group got the message and the response appeared enthusiastic.

Waianae parishioners venerating the relics.
After the talk ended I was pleasantly surprised that most of the feedback I received was from the youth in attendance. Several teens approached me to express how much they enjoyed learning about the Sainthood Process… as well as the individual lives of the various Saints/Blesseds I spoke about. One girl seemed almost choked-up (in a good way) as she spoke to me, while another person - a young man still pending baptism – declared that he was eager to be baptized and become a Catholic!  I later saw them at the display altar viewing and praying before the relics I brought. It was evident the Saints/Blesseds had again succeeded in touching hearts for Jesus in Waianae… and they even left us with a tangible sign of their presence – Escarchas!

Fine shiny flakes of gold, red, and sky-blue appeared on a table, on and around my electronic equipment, which the RCIA members excitedly collected with clear tape.  I also saw Escarchas on the floor around the altar.  For me it was visible confirmation that the gate of Heaven had opened and members of the "Celestial Court” had come through to bless us in a special way this evening -  the icing on the cake for all of us... and we were grateful and awed.

... and I am also grateful to the RCIA family of the Sacred Heart Parish for their endearing warmth and generosity. May Our Lady and the Saints/Blesseds always guide and bless each of us for the good of our souls and the good of our Church… and above all - for the greater glory of God!  Amen.