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


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Speaking Presentation & Pilgrim Visitation, 6/27/2012: St. Anne's Church, Kaneohe


 
My Rosa Mystica pilgrim statue surrounded by Holy Relics and free devotional items,
while parishioners from St. Anne's Church looked on with interest and devotion

Last night, I was invited by the RCIA  leaders at  St. Anne's Church in  neighboring  Kaneohe to conduct a Saints and Holy Relics Presentation for their recently baptized catachumens.  A special request was made to this lay-ministry to have the relics of St. Padre Pio, the Blessed Martyrs of Nowogrodek, and Our Lady's clothing relic to be a part of the presentation... but I also discussed the lives of St. Bernadette of LourdesBl. Pope John Paul II, and Bl. Margaret of Castello, while displaying their Sacred Relics for the group to view, too.

The presentation went very well and I was encouraged by the positive feedback received from several of the audience members after the presentation concluded.  A couple even shared about how the talk brought back happy memories of St. Damien of Molokai's Canonization in Rome, which they attended with 600+ pilgrims from Hawaii;  it was a joy to hear about their experience of being present at an actual Canonization event.  The look of excitement in their faces as they related their story was priceless!

Audience members taking a closer look at the Holy
Relics on the makeshift display altar

... so a special, heartfelt Mahalo goes out to the RCIA group at St. Anne's... for their invitation, hospitality, and their enthusiastic interest in the Saints and Blesseds.  Hallelujah!

Monday, June 25, 2012

More "Escarchas"...


    
Green and gold Escarchas, collected with clear scotch tape after they mysteriously
materialized in my bedroom... on my clothes, a blanket, and a reliquary.

Sunday, 6/24/2012:

I'm not really sure what's going on, but Escarchas - mysterious glitter-like flakes of Heavenly Manna - have again manifested.  This time, the Escarchas appeared in my bedroom... scattered randomly on my clothing, a blanket, and on a 2nd Class Relic of St. Gianna Beretta Molla kept on my personal altar; not a lot, but definitely enough to be clearly noticed by me and by family members who I showed them to.

Unlike the incident that occurred at my workplace a few days ago, this second round of Escarchas were a bright green color mixed with a little gold, rather than silver and gold as in the earlier incident.  According to an interesting article from the popular Spirit Daily Catholic website, different colored Escarchas supposedly symbolize different meanings - Green is for Hope; Gold is for Healing... and on this other website - Visions of Jesus Christ.com - the phenomenon of Escarchas seem to be particularly linked to the Rosa Mystica Devotion.  I have two Rosa Mystica pilgrim statues in my personal custody so I strongly feel, that this time around, the appearance of the Escarchas are connected with Our Lady, the Mystical Rose; a devotion that I love and enthusiastically promote.

video
A video showing a small sampling of the shimmering green
and gold Escarchas that I collected on 6/24/2012
 

Monday, 6/25/2012:

Incredibly, Escarchas made a third appearance... and of all places, it happened at my workplace again.  The Escarchas manifested intermittently throughout the day, but I noticed that they often materialized whenever I happened to be prayerfully looking at a photo of a Rosa Mystica statue that I had on my desk.  More so, I am convinced that this grace has a strong connection to the Rosa Mystica Devotion.

Three trusted coworkers also witnessed the materializations, which were many gold, green, and silver Escarchas... and even a single red one!  The photo below shows some of the Escarchas that I gathered with scotch tape today, including the lone red flake visible to the left of the bunch.

A third manifestation of Escarchas... a special gift received
through the intercession of Our Lady, the Mystical Rose

Again, my spirit was filled with awe and profound gratitude towards Jesus and Our Lady concerning this particular grace - I am also deeply humbled at having experienced this wonder firsthand for a second and third time.  Something in my heart tells me that this is just a precursor of graces yet to come from Our Lady, the Rosa Mystica, so please keep my little ministry in your valued prayers as I continue my efforts to make this devotion more known.  Thank you and God bless you.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Escarchas" from St. Anthony...


 
A sampling of Escarchas, taped to a prayer card, which mysteriously appeared on one
of my drawings while I was at work (click on the photos to view larger images)

I experienced something strange, but wonderful,  on the morning of June 20th... have you ever heard of Escarchas?  "Escarchas" is the Spanish word for "frost"... but in certain religious circles the same word has also been used to describe small, shiny colored particles - mainly fine flakes of gold or silver - that have materialized at a few Marian apparition sites or during random prayer events.  The alleged phenomena is not exclusive to Catholics, but it has also been frequently reported by Fundamentalist Christians at their charismatic prayer services; they refer to it as "Shekinah Glory Dust", or simply "Gold Dust".

I only learned about the phenomenon of Escarchas maybe about a year and a half ago, and I never really knew what to make of it.  Largely ingnorant about Escarchas, I figured that it was similar in concept and/or purpose to the mystical sign of "Manna" - the mysterious fluid or solid substances that have appeared throughout Christian History to nourish and/or heal the People of God.  I was also a little cautious about it because I felt that it was a little too "glitzy" to be taken seriously as a spiritual sign, and for the most part, that's what I believed until a couple of days ago...

     
A few examples of Escarchas - (Left) Emma de Guzman, an alleged Filipino mystic, manifests Escarchas
on her face; (Center) a framed prayer card covered with Escarchas from an apparition site in Venezuela; (Right) a weeping Sacred Heart statue in Australia covered with multi-colored Escarchas
 
On June 2oth, while at my place of work, I printed a copy of a drawing that I sketched for my parish priest and placed it face-down on the desk beside me.  A bit later when I picked up the paper to show it to a coworker, she noticed a light sprinkling of silver and golden particles on the drawing; it resembled glitter, except it was much finer than any glitter that I've ever seen before... plus, there was no container of glitter present anywhere on my desk.  Perplexed, but not thinking much of it, I swiped the shiny flakes off the paper and off my desk, and then noticed additional flakes sticking to both my hands and on the top of my forearms. When I looked back at my desk, it looked as though there were more flakes so I started removing them with a clear piece of scotch tape to avoid spreading them around.

Feeling a little incredulous, I left my cubicle to speak with a trusted friend and also showed her the shiny particles on the paper and on my arms; the ones clinging to my body appeared to have increased!  It was at that point that I began to suspect that we were witnessing a manifestation of Escarchas. My friend and I discussed the circumstances in detail and we both concluded that it was perhaps a sign from St. Anthony of Padua; that he was pleased with the drawing I did for my priest (see below)...

The drawing on which the Escarchas first appeared
(click to view a larger image)
 
You see... my parish priest - Fr. Clarence - is planning to transfer and enlarge our current reliquary-shrine of St. Anthony of Padua within our main church building.  He also intends to incorporate a large votive candle stand so our parishioners will have the option of lighting candles when they pray.  When Fr. Clarence asked for my feedback, I thought it was an excellent idea so I sketched a design of what I thought would make for a wonderful new shrine to our Patron Saint; it was on this drawing that the Escarchas were first noticed.

Later on, during that same morning, a little more of the shiny flakes were noticed on my desk despite the fact that I had taken the extra care of ensuring that it was free of any debris; I would turn away for just a few moments, and when I looked back down at my desk, the shiny substance would be where none had been before!  The entire scenario played out for about an hour before I stopped noticing the appearance of new flakes.

Reflecting on this recent unusual occurrence in my life, this episode again left me humbled and grateful to God (I couldn't stop thanking and praising Him in prayer!)... at the same time, although I was deeply impressed by the appearance of the Escarchas,  I remain devoutly cautious.  Much prayer  is still needed to  spiritually discern the full meaning behind the manifestation of this shimmering form of Manna. It is my hope that St. Anthony of Padua did indeed send the Escarchas to convey his satisfaction and blessings over the plans for his new shrine.  If all goes well, I can't wait for the shrine to be completed by Advent of this year - I anticipate it being a great grace for our community and for our visitors!  May St. Anthony continue to bless and intercede for us.
 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Feast Day Celebrations: St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua, 6/13/2012


"... The prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
James 5:16
 
  
The Day Chapel at St. Anthony's Church in Kailua was full to overflowing with parishioners
and visitors who participated in the morning services in honor of St. Anthony of Padua.
(click on all photos to view larger images)
 
Once again, my home parish of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kailua (Oahu, Hawaii) celebrated the annual Feast Day of our dear Patron Saint.  We actually had two celebratory events planned - one for the morning and another in the evening - but I was only able to attend the morning festivities due to my work schedule.  Still, I thought the earlier event was a great start to what turned out to be a meaningful day for me...
 
  
Fr. Clarence Zamora praying before the reliquary of St. Anthony, after which the people present were
given the opportunity to approach the Holy Relic to pay their respects to our Saint.
 
The morning event began with Holy Mass being celebrated in our Day Chapel in honor of St. Anthony, which included the public veneration of his 1st Class (bone) Relic that is normally enshrined in our main church.  The service was then followed by a social gathering in our parish hall where the large group of our participating parishioners and guests enjoyed some breakfast and fellowship.

After the Mass and the relic-veneration service, we celebrated
our Saint's memory with a wonderful breakfast.
 
Personally, I am very, very happy with how my parish has started to celebrate the Feast of St. Anthony in this special manner.  I see it as a start of a wonderful tradition that our spiritual community can begin to look forward to every year in June!  Our Patron Saint is indeed an awesome one, and his life and rich legacy leave us much to celebrate...

 
Holy Relics of St. Anthony that I personally photographed in the Basilica of Padua... his incorrupt tongue
(left photo-bottom reliquary), his jaw bone (top reliquary)... and remnants of the brown habit he wore.
 
I recall that when I traveled on pilgrimage to Italy back in 1985, I visited St. Anthony's Basilica and tomb in Padua - what impressed me deeply was seeing the piles of crutches, walking canes, and various medical braces left at the shrine by grateful pilgrims who were cured through the Saint's powerful intercession.  It was then I fully realized the unique greatness of St. Anthony and how truly loved he is by people throughout the world.

I came away from the Padua Basilica a life-long "fan" of their compassionate wonder-worker and I consider my parish very fortunate to have the Saint spiritually and physically present with us through his bodily relic; we don't have to go all the way to Italy to "connect" with St. Anthony, but we have a tiny bit of him and the city of Padua here in Hawaii... in our beautiful Kailua church.

I've seen first hand that the prayers of this righteous man really do "...availeth much".  So may St. Anthony continue to pray and intercede for all people who turn to him with devotion and confidence.

 

St. Anthony's Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit, Fire of Love, come rest over each of us.
Make our tongues ready to confess our sins, that in revealing everything
and concealing nothing, we may attain heavenly life to sing eternal praise
with the angels.  With Your help, O holy and life-giving Spirit,
You who live and reign through all ages.  Amen.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Mighty Hand of God


 
 "Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes."  ~ Psalm 17:7

Above is a photo of a cloud that I took a few months ago… I call the picture the "Hand of God". I wasn't going to post it, but a friend of mine who I showed the photo to, encouraged me to do so because she felt that a reader out there could spiritually benefit from the story that goes along with the image...  so here's what happened:

One evening, during my drive home from work, I was quietly reflecting and praying… and sort of "complaining" to Jesus (it was bad of me) about how evil seems to have a greater hold in today's world than good.  I also prayed to the Lord to do something greater about it and to help all the devout people who are living faithful lives, as well as praying for the rest of humanity to change for the better… no sooner did the prayer leave my mind when I happened to glance up at the sky and noticed a huge cloud in the clear shape of a hand (I interpreted it to be the right hand with the palm facing the viewer).  I was so impressed by the image that I took a picture of it using my cellphone.

When I got home, I researched the internet to find the meaning behind the symbolism of the right hand in Biblical and Christian tradition, and what I discovered totally astounded me. Basically, in Sacred Scriptures and in many western cultures, the right hand symbolizes Authority, Power, and Protection.  How appropriate.

 
"Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his
holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand."  ~ Psalm 20:6
 
Whether or not the strange cloud was mere coincidence, or a response of some sort from our Lord, I can only speak for myself. For me, based on the earlier circumstances and what I later learned about the symbolic meaning of the right hand of God, I believe Jesus was reassuring me that HE IS STILL IN CONTROL of this world despite how messed up things appear to be… and that in due time, He'll be putting things back into their proper order. In the meanwhile, we just have to continue to TRUST and have FAITH, that in the end, good will triumph over all evil, and all who believe in Christ will also be victorious.  What a comforting thought - all Thanks and Praises be to God Almighty!
 
An Invocation to the Mighty Right Hand of God
(for private use only)
 
O Heavenly Father,
in all ages you are the Consoler, Provider,
and Protector of us, your people.  No enemy
can withstand your Might and on bended
knees they must surrender in defeat to
your Divine Authority.
 
Look with compassion upon me,
your servant, who calls on you in time of need.
May your Right Hand cover me with your Protection,
and with swift gesture put to flight my foes and
the evil they have brought upon me.
 
With a grateful heart, I will praise and
adore you, O Heavenly Father; proclaiming
until the end of my days, the immensity
of your Goodness and Power!
Amen.
 
"Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand,
O Lord, shattered the enemy."  ~ Exodus 15:6

 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony's Church, 6/2/2012

 
Our Lady's pilgrim statue with returning friends... and newly made ones
(click on the photos to view larger images)

Our monthly regulars again came together to pray June’s First Saturday Rosary for Peace at St. Anthony of Padua Church. Our gathering was made extra special by the participation of returning friends from Pearl City, Kapolei, and Mililani… and new friends visiting from St. Elizabeth’s Church in Aiea, specifically to participate in our special Rosary Prayer and attend Mass.

In addition, several young people from SHWAY (Saints Helping With Adults & Youth) - a local Youth Ministry - were also in attendance this evening, which really encouraged me because I’m a firm believer in reaching out to our young people so as to teach them about Our Lady, the Saints, and the Holy Rosary. So it was great to have them with us and I pray the Blessed Mother will continue to inspire more and more young people from within our community to come and join us in this important mission of praying for Peace and Conversion in the world.

The next First Saturday gathering will be held on July 7th. Jesus offers us Divine Peace through the gift of his Blessed Mother and the Rosary - come and pray with us, as we reach out for these gifts.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Saint of the Month: June 2012


Blessed Marguerite Bays
A Suffering Servant of God ~ Memorial: June 27th

Marguerite Bays was the daughter of simple and devout farmers from the small hamlet of La Pierraz, Switzerland. It was providential that she was born on September 8th, 1815, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as she had a deep, filial love for the Mother of the Lord since early childhood. For the most part, Marguerite’s life was quite uneventful - she lived and died in her small town, had a limited education, and quietly worked as a self-employed seamstress from her family's little cottage. During her spare time she was either involved with some sort of activity with her local parish church, or visiting with the sick and dying in her local community. She also loved children and was often seen teaching them prayers and catechism, or leading the youth in pilgrimages to a nearby shrine to the Blessed Virgin.

Life turned extraordinary for Marguerite at the age of 35. A chronic stomach complaint developed into intestinal cancer causing her much pain and discomfort. She turned to the Holy Virgin in fervent prayer and asked her to intercede with her Divine Son… oddly enough, not for a complete cure, but rather to “exchange” her illness for another type of suffering that would allow her to share more directly in the Passion of Our Lord; the way of the cross would be her sure road to Heaven.

Bl. Marguerite's tiny bedroom, where she relived the Passion of Christ
every Friday evening for many years.

Marguerite’s prayer must have pleased God greatly  for on December 8th, 1854 - almost at the exact time when Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception - she was miraculously healed from the cancer.  As further response to her prayer, shortly after, Marguerite began falling into ecstatic raptures on Fridays, during which she relived the painful Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  Bleeding wounds opened in her hands and feet and it was apparent that she was marked with the Sacred Stigmata.  In her humility, Marguerite hid the wounds from the outside world to the best of her ability, but it was eventually discovered and word spread about the miracle.  So she then asked the Lord to grant her the Passion Ecstasies in the late-evenings when she would less likely attract unwanted attention and this request was also granted by God.  Hence, she prayerfully suffered, undisturbed by curious eyes, but supported by her close-knit family.

Despite the painful imprints of the Stigmata, Marguerite strove to live as normal as possible and continued her active participation with parish life.  Her devotion to the Holy Eucharist became extraordinary as her union with Christ deepened.  During her final illness, she suffered greatly and could not keep down most food... but she was sustained almost entirely by the Holy Communion she received infrequently.  When her death occurred on June 27th, 1879, she showed no fear and little sign of suffering, but rather, her person reflected an immense joy and love, as she anticipated her ultimate meeting with our beloved Lord.  Like Christ Crucified, she died on a Friday at 3:00pm.  The Church Beatified Marguerite Bays in 1995.

A Reflection:
“All those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

~ Matthew 23:12

A Short Prayer:
Lord, gently humble us… by allowing us to see ourselves as you see us.  Amen.