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 1, 2018

Saint of the Month - September 2018: St. Therese Couderc

 St. Therese Couderc
 Apostle of God's Goodness - Feast: September 26th

The featured Saint this month is another great mystic of our Catholic Faith, but she remains largely unknown outside of her home-country of France.  Her birth name was Marie-Victoire Couderc ("Victoire"), but today she's better known as St. Therese Couderc, the founder of the Congregation of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle - or simply called the Sisters of the Cenacle - which is still active world-wide in countries such as the USA, Australia, Ireland, Italy, Philippines, and of course, France.

Born in the French hamlet of Le Mas in February 1805, Victoire was the fourth child out of twelve children.  Her parents were pious and imparted in their children the basics of their Catholic Faith.  The youthful Victoire, in particular, was highly devoted to the Mass and she had the joy of making her First Holy Communion on the Feast of Pentecost in May 1815 when she was 10-years-old.  

From 1822 to 1825, our Saint spent time in a boarding school in Vans until her father recalled her home to be closer to the family.  Her mother had also just given birth, which was probably a big factor in her father's decision to have her return.  However, things did not turn out as Mr. Couderc had intended.  During Lent of 1825, the family attended a mission given by a Fr. Stephen Terme, which inspired Victoire to confide in him her hidden and growing desire to serve God.

It just so happened that Fr. Terme had recently founded a small group of teaching nuns called the Sisters of St. Regis.  Sensing Victoire's sincerity, the priest accepted her into his fledgling congregation to the dismay of the young woman's parents.  The persuasive duo of priest and religious aspirant managed to win over the family and permission was granted for Victoire to take leave for the novitiate in the village of La Louvesc.

In this mountainous town of La Louvesc, there was also the Shrine of the Jesuit Saint, St. John Francis Regis (d. 1640), which was a popular place of pilgrimage.  At times the town experienced such a large inundation of pilgrims, the hotels would be overcrowded with visitors.  Seeing a need for it, Fr. Terme and the Sisters of St. Regis opened a hostel to house the overflow of pilgrims.  In time the hostel, too, became overcrowded... and this is when Victoire - now a new nun named Sr. Therese - discerned the need for change.

Another photo of St. Therese Couderc.
Seeing how the influx of men in the hostel would sometimes lead to unruly behavior, it concerned Sr. Therese when it came to the safety and well-being of the women guests.  She persuaded Fr. Terme to allow only women to stay in the hostel and, in addition, she was instrumental in implementing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, as a condition for the pilgrims to board in their establishment.  Thus, the women were provided with an avenue to deepen their faith experience while on pilgrimage in La Louvesc; at the time, it was a novel concept.

So with the innovative changes put forth by Sr. Therese the hostel was effectively transformed from being just a mere inn run by the Sisters of St. Regis to an actual retreat house - a cenacle of prayer, reflection, and spiritual growth.  The retreats were a big hit and, after further discernment, Sr. Therese and Fr. Terme decided to co-found a completely new congregation to address the growing interest in the cenacle movement.  In 1826, the Sisters of the Cenacles was born and Sr. Therese was designated as its first superior in 1828.

The new congregation was quick to expand and, for the most part, things ran smoothly for Mo. Therese and the Cenacle Sisters until 1838, when an ambitious sister plotted to usurp the superior.  Accused of mismanaging the finances of the congregation, the local bishop forced Therese to resign from leadership and replaced her with a novice who came from an educated background.  In a few months, this new superior proved to be inept and was replaced by the Bishop with another sister, who, for some reason, made a concerted effort to humiliate Mo. Therese and efface her role as founder of the congregation.

Mo. Therese was at first assigned the most menial tasks and close contact between her and the other nuns was restricted so as to limit any influence she had with them.  She was then transferred to the more remote houses of the congregation to further erase any memory of her.  On her part, the former superior responded in a manner that would seem strange to the average person - she never complained, but instead she accepted her lot as being the will of God for her; she was ever-obedient to her new superiors; she maintained quiet humility in the face of poor treatment.  The whole situation served to purify her soul, resulting in further spiritual growth and mystical favors.

One of the most profound experiences Mo. Therese had occurred sometime in 1866 and it left an indelible mark on her.  She had a life-changing vision in which she saw everything that God ever created - living and inanimate, rational or not - "stamped" with the word GOODNESS emblazoned in letters of gold.  Through this vision, the Saint saw and recognized, in a mysterious way, the innate goodness present in all creation and how everything the Lord makes is a source of tremendous blessing.  She was filled with immense awe and gratitude.

Other extraordinary experiences recorded of this Saint included her mystical participation in the Lord's agony in the garden of Gethsemane on Thursday evenings.  It was apparent at this point that she was called to be a victim-soul, who suffered in union with Jesus.  At the time Mo. Therese began to undergo this grace, she had already gone deaf... so when the tremendous moral desolation that Christ endured came upon her in the chapel, her pitiable lamentations were witnessed by all in the house without her realizing it.

In early 1885, while based in the Cenacle of Lyon, the Saint was incapacitated by a mysterious illness and could no longer leave her bed.  She reported visits from the Poor Souls who surrounded her bed in large crowds, begging for her prayers on their behalf.  She was generous in offering her suffering for them.

The tomb of St. Therese Couderc in the Cenacle of La Louvesc, which encloses
a wax figure of the Saint and her relics. 

Mo. Therese died on September 26th, 1885, at the ripe ol' age of 80.  As the superiors who were hostile to her died, Therese's reputation in the congregation was slowly rehabilitated as her spiritual writings came to light and the truth about her role as the congregation's founder surfaced; the nuns came to realize that she had been a Saint among them all along.  In addition, cures were reported at her tomb, which resulted in the opening of her Cause for Canonization in 1927.

Mo. Therese Couderc was Beatified in 1951 and declared a Saint on May 10, 1970.  May she pray for our personal needs and the needs of the Universal Church - St. Therese, pray for us!

A Short Prayer:
   O Lord, open our eyes to your goodness present in all people; in all creatures; in all things... and help us to always be grateful.  Amen.  

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Monthly Messages from the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: August 2018

Dear Children...

Our Lady's Monthly Message to the World on August 25th:
   “Dear children!  This is a time of grace.  Little children, pray more, speak less and permit God to lead you on the way of conversion.  I am with you and love you with my motherly love.  Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Our Lady's Special Message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on August 2nd:
   “Dear children, with a motherly love I am calling you to open hearts to peace; to open hearts to my Son, so that in your hearts love for my Son may sing, because only out of that love peace comes in the soul.  My children, I know that you have goodness, I know that you have love – a merciful love, but many of my children still have a closed heart.  They think that they can do it without directing their thoughts towards the Heavenly Father who illuminates – towards my Son who is always with you anew in the Eucharist and who desires to listen to you.  My children, why do you not speak to Him?  The life of each of you is important and precious, because it is a gift from the Heavenly Father for eternity.  Therefore, do not ever forget to keep on thanking Him: speak to Him.  I know, my children, that what is to come afterwards is unknown to you, but when your hereafter comes you will receive all the answers.  My motherly love desires that you be ready.  My children, by your life keep putting good feelings in the hearts of the people whom you meet, feelings of peace, goodness, love and forgiveness.  Through prayer, hearken to what My Son is saying and act accordingly.  Anew, I am calling you to prayer for your shepherds, for those whom my Son has called.  Remember that they need prayers and love.  Thank you.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Attention, Prayer Warriors - asking prayers for Hawaii...

To the generous and dedicated Prayer Warriors out there, this post is especially directed to you.  'am humbly asking for your valued prayers for our Hawaiian islands.  Hurricane Lane is headed for my small island state and has defied all prior forecasts - strengthening to a powerful Category 4 storm, rather than weakening; headed north-west, versus continuing south of the island chain.  It may just make a direct hit to my home-island of Oahu.

I am a firm believer in the awesome power of Faith and Prayer, which, as Scriptures tell us, can move mountains and calm storms - nothing is impossible to God.  So please kindly join me in offering the prayer below (or any other prayer) for the protection of Hawaii from Hurricane Lane.  Thank you and God bless you.

   Father, all the elements of nature obey your command.  Calm the storms and hurricanes that threaten us and turn our fear of your power into praise of your goodness.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

* * *  U P D A T E * * *

As of Friday afternoon, at approximately 5:00pm, Hurricane Lane was downgraded to a tropical storm status and is headed westward.  Thank you and praise you, Lord... and thanks to all who offered prayers and well-wishes.