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, December 31, 2011

Holy Relic Visitation: Castle Hospital (Kailua), 12/31/2011


My friend, Letty, holding the reliquary of St. Therese the Little Flower

Today, after attending Saturday morning Mass at a neighboring parish, I was approached by an acquaintance of mine - a lady named Letty Query, who had attended one of my speaking presentations about the Saints & Holy Relics. Letty is a life-long devotee of St. Therese the Little Flower, and she informed me that her husband was very sick and staying in a nearby hospital. Knowing that I had a 1st Class Relic of her Patron Saint under my care, she asked me if I would be willing to bring the relic of St. Therese to the hospital to comfort her husband.

Sensing the heaviness in her heart, I willingly agreed and later went to meet her at the hospital with the blessed relic. The couple's two daughters were also present during the visit and it was a very moving experience to watch as the family placed the reliquary into their father’s weak hands, and fervently implored St. Therese to intercede for his recovery; the atmosphere seemed much lighter after the blessing was prayed.  

Incidentally, the other male patient in the hospital room and his wife were also both Catholics who were very familiar with St. Therese... and they also asked to be blessed with the relic, which we gladly did. Together, all of us in the room then prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the two sick men before I took leave of the families. It was the first-ever, official pilgrim visit to a hospital for my personal ministry... and definitely a great way to close-out 2011.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Testimony to the Power of Our Lady's Intercession...

Today was an extraordinary day of personal blessings for me. In fact, it was so out-of-the ordinary, I feel compelled to post this message as a public testimony of gratitude and love to the Blessed Virgin and the power of her maternal intercession... I received three great blessings from her generous hands, for which I am most grateful and humbled:

* The first grace that Our Lady granted was the recovery of a Holy Relic of St. Lucy of Syracuse (left) that I lost yesterday in our Honolulu Cathedral after I attended the noon Mass.  I accidentally forgot the relic on a bench in the church and it was recovered this morning - safe and sound - under truly remarkable circumstances in the Cathedral's sacristy. 

* The second grace that I received from Our Lady was an answer to a prayer - a peaceful resolution - to an urgent family matter that I had been commending to her intercession for the past couple of weeks.  The prayer was answered shortly after I reached my place of work, only minutes after having come from the Cathedral.  

* And finally, the third grace Our Lady granted me had to do with a little flower (left) I found on the floor of the Cathedral this morning.  When I was leaving the church to go to work, I found a single fragrant Pikake blossom ("Sampaguita" in Filipino) lying at my feet, which I picked up and took back with me to my office. At the end of the work day, while I was walking to my car, I held the flower to my nose to smell its sweet fragrance and noticed an uncanny image formed in the middle of the petals - incredibly, it clearly resembled Our Lady of Guadalupe who also happens to be the patroness and namesake of my personal ministry! I immediately used my cellphone to take the photo posted below to capture and preserve the unique moment.

    A photo of the Pikake blossom I found with an image of Our Lady in the center of the petals

So with all that I've experienced today, I sincerely and joyfully testify that... Jesus  is truly AWESOME and our Blessed Mother is indeed a powerful intercessor before the throne of her Divine Son. The maternal solicitude of Our Lady exceeds all expectations... so turn to her with Faith, Love, Humility, and Confidence during your times of need... and you will not be disappointed.  Ad Jesum per Mariam!

Another photo of the Pikake flower as it sits atop the hands of my Rosa Mystica statue

Monday, December 12, 2011

Saints & Holy Relics Speaking Presentation: Dumadag Residence, 12/12/2011


A stunning depiction of Our Lady of Guadalupe - painted by
Hawaii artist, Sheree Pokipala - stands watch over several Holy Relics
  
On Monday evening, 12/12, I was re-invited by the Dumadag Family from Kahalu'u to conduct another Saints & Holy Relics Presentation for several members of their Basic Christian Community (BCC) cell group who had missed the presentation I did for them back in March 2011.

 A closer view of the Holy Relics that were made available
during the presentation

As today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe - the special patroness of my ministry - I was excited to do this presentation as a feast day gift for our Blessed Mother. So for the public veneration of those who attended, I brought along the relics of 8 holy persons in addition to Our Lady's clothing relic: Bl. Alberto Marvelli, St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. Charles Houben, Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Bl. Pope John Paul II, Bl. Maria Stella & 10 Companion Martyrs of Nowogrodek, St. Paola Frassinetti, & St. Veronica Giuliani.

Praising the Lord through song prior to the start of the presentation 

As with the past presentation, I along with the Sacred Relics were warmly welcomed by the Dumadags... and at the end of it, it appeared that all that was shared with the audience had been very well received. Several members of the family expressed interest in the individual holy persons that I had talked about and asked for their names so they could pray for their intercession in their respective homes.

I left the home grateful to Our Lady and the Saints for having planted seeds of faith in the hearts of the people. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony's Church, 12/3/2011


Our Lady's statue with a Holy Relic of St. Lucy, Virgin & Martyr

What a wonderful prayer meeting today's First Saturday Rosary turned out to be... we had more people than usual show up and again there were a few new faces in the pews. Prior to the Rosary being prayed, I shared about the life of a December Saint - St. Lucy, Virgin & Martyr - who's Holy Relic was present on the display altar along with Our Lady's clothing relic; the people present appreciated the account of the Martyr's life and were edified by her example of heroic virtue.

During the recitation of the Joyful Mysteries, which we offered for Peace, there was a powerful sense of calm that surrounded us, which left an impression on many of the people. A friend of mine who had offered to take photos of the event for me, later confided that he couldn't bring himself to take any pictures during the prayer because of the intense spiritual aura that was present in the chapel. He thought it would have been disrespectful of him to interrupt the deep, prayerful atmosphere with flashes from the camera; I completely understood.

The next Parish Rosary for Peace will be offered on Saturday, January 7th, 2012, at 4:30pm in the St. Anthony of Padua Church's Day Chapel. All are invited to participate so please consider praying with us in January. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pilgrim Virgin & Holy Relic Visitation: Koloi Residence, 12/2/2011


 Our Lady's pilgrim statue visits the Koloi residence in Enchanted Lakes, Kailua

This past Thanksgiving, I was approached by some dear friends of mine - members of the Koloi Family - and asked if I would be willing to "bless" their Enchanted Lakes (Kailua) home for them. I was aware that the family - who aren't regular church-goers - was going through a rough patch in their lives and I sensed that the request was a serious attempt to reach out for God's help. I explained to them that as a layperson, I wasn't in a position to bless their home, but what I could do was pray with them and put them in touch with a priest-friend of mine who could perhaps fulfill their request. 

Well, as things turned out, I was able to assist the Koloi's in scheduling a home blessing with Fr. Tom from nearby St. John Vianney Church, and the blessing took place early this morning; it was a beautiful and powerful event for the family. I was fortunate to be present at the blessing and I could tell that the man of the house - Bulla Koloi - was deeply touched and comforted by the benediction as a feeling of peace settled over the entire house.

To help prepare the family for today's solemn event, I offered them my Rosa Mystica statue and the Holy Relic of the Virgin Mary's veil (ex velo) for an overnight pilgrim visit in their home. I figured that if there was anybody who could help the family to open their hearts to God's love and blessing, none could do it better than Our Lady. So the Koloi Family gladly welcomed the statue into their home and we set up a makeshift altar in their dining room where we gathered to say a few prayers to the Blessed Mother. After we prayed, one could sense the heavy atmosphere already beginning to lift.

Later this morning, when I returned to the home to pick up the statue to prepare it for its next destination (St. Anthony's First Saturday Rosary for Peace)... the little girl pictured on the right - Jesselle - shared an interesting story with all of us. She related that when she was alone with the statue last night, she thought she saw it crying tears... but only from the right eye, which I thought was an odd thing to say if she was making up the story. No one else in the home reported anything unusual, but if indeed the child saw the statue cry, this would be the first time that someone had ever reported this particular type of phenomena in connection with the statue.

I left the Koloi home feeling very happy, knowing that seeds of faith had been planted by the Blessed Virgin in the hearts of the family members - Ad Jesum per Mariam!
       

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Saint of the Month: December 2011


Bl. Maria Vittoria Fornari-Strata
A Saintly Widow - Memorial: December 15th

Born in 1562, Bl. Maria Vittoria was one of those saintly individuals who experienced a “dual vocation” in her lifetime. Originally, she was a married aristocrat, who with her husband - Angelo Strata – were parents to five lovely children. According to her biographers, Maria Vittoria’s marriage was a happy one; she adored her husband and they doted on their large family, but things changed for the worse when her husband caught ill and died after eight years of being together. The young widow was initially devastated and knelt before an image of the Blessed Virgin to whom she was greatly devoted. She prayed for comfort and security, after which the image reportedly came to life, and Our Lady reassured her with the words:  

“My child Vittoria, be brave and confident, for it is my wish to take both the mother and
the children under my protection. I will care for your household. Live quietly and without worrying. All I ask is that you entrust yourself to me and henceforth devote yourself
to the love of God above all things.”

For the next sixteen years Maria Vittoria concentrated her efforts in raising her children and fulfilling Our Lady’s request that she sanctify herself. She made a private vow of chastity and exercised works of charity by nursing the abandoned sick, giving generously to the poor, and also assisting fallen women in rehabilitating their lives. Four of her children, through the grace of God, entered into religious life after being inspired by their mother’s pious example, and after the last child left home, Maria Vittoria’s “second vocation” began to unfold.

A rare relic of Bl. Maria Vittoria - a heart-shaped piece of fabric from
her clothing - that was gifted to this ministry by her congregation.

For a long while the devout young widow had dreamed of establishing a contemplative convent of nuns that was especially dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, and now that she no longer had any family obligations, she set about bringing her dream to fulfillment. Working with her bishop, Maria Vittoria obtained all necessary permission to found the convent, which she entered on March 13, 1604, along with several woman-companions who shared her spiritual ideals. As a way of further honoring the Mother of Christ, the newly formed convent adopted as its method of dress, white tunics with distinctive sky-blue scapulars and mantles, that are still worn today by the sisters of her congregation. It was because of their habits that they came to be called the “Blue Annonciades”.

Maria Vittoria, besides being the foundress, also served as the community’s first prioress but was later replaced by another sister, who for some vague reason, made it a point to humiliate the foundress by openly treating her with harshness. Madre Maria Vittoria responded to the ill-treatment with admirable patience and humility, and the Lord was pleased to favor her with mystical graces, which included many Visions and Ecstasies.

The body of Bl. Maria Vittoria, foundress of the Blue Annonciades

The saintly widow died in 1617 and was recognized as a Blessed by the Church in 1828. Her incorrupt remains are venerated in the motherhouse of her congregation in Genoa, Italy, where the penitential life practiced by her convents has been strictly maintained throughout the centuries.

A Reflection:
Many of our Blesseds and Saints shared one thing in common - in addition to loving God, they also had a great respect and a healthy devotion to Mother Mary.

A Short Prayer:
Dear Blessed Mother, we entrust ourselves to your powerful intercession, confident that you will lead us in the service of your Divine Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.