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, August 25, 2012

Holy Relics Visitation: Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group, 8/25/2012

Sacred Relics of St. Maximilian Kolbe (L) and St. Peregrine Laziosi (R) surround the Rosa Mystica
statue on the Gruber Family's home altar (click on each photo to view larger images)
The August prayer meeting at the Gruber home was a wonderful event filled with FAITH, and later followed by FUN and lots and lots of FOOD!  We had the joy of welcoming new participants to our little circle of prayer, which included an entire family... and it was an inspiration  for me to see them - mother and father with their three young children praying together; the parents setting an example of prayer for their kids - it was a beautiful example of faith in action.
As part of tonight's gathering, I also shared the life-story and 1st and 2nd Class (hair/clothing) relics of St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose courageous sacrifice on behalf of a condemned prisoner never fails to impress my listeners.  And by special request from our host, my 1st Class (bone) Relic of St. Peregrine Laziosi - the Patron Saint of Cancer Patients - was also brought to the prayer meeting as there were several people suffering from cancer who we were offering intercessory prayers for.
Food, fun, and fellowship followed after the prayers!
The intensity of our prayer intentions was afterwards lightened by a delicious potluck dinner, which we shared in the spirit of  love and  Christian fellowship.  A special sign of the Blessed Virgin's  maternal presence  among us was also evidenced, via the appearance of Escarchas, which we later discovered sprinkled on different areas of the dining room table and on the floor near the host-family's home altar
A cluster of golden Escarchas that materialized
on the Gruber's dining room table
I am already looking forward to the September prayer meeting and I continue to pray that our Lord will send us new and old friends to participate with Our Lady of Fatima Prayer Group in offering the Holy Rosary for the betterment of the entire world.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pilgrim Statue & Holy Relic Visitation: The Feast of Our Lady's Assumption, 8/15/2012

Feast Day observances at St. Anthony's Church, Kailua

Today, the Church celebrated the Feast of Our Lady's Assumption.  Although it isn't a Holy Day of Obligation in the Diocese of Honolulu, our parish priest - Fr. Clarence - was still eager to honor our Blessed Mother by celebrating an evening Mass in observance of the Feast. My Rosa Mystica pilgrim statue and Our Lady's "ex velo" relic were invited to participate in the service and I was happy to oblige since  I am a firm believer that no celebration in honor of Mary would be complete without a statue or painting of her in attendance.

As expected, the evening service was beautiful and meaningful. Fr. Clarence again conducted one of his Marian-oriented homilies in which he incorporates the singing of several traditional and time-honored hymns especially dedicated to Our Lady.  I always find myself deeply stirred and "chicken-skinned" when I hear the entire congregation united in one voice, lovingly praising our Blessed Mother in song, in  a manner that she deserves from us - her adopted children through Christ, her Divine Son.

After the Mass, the festivities concluded with refreshments in our "Friendship Lanai", which was highlighted with lighthearted fellowship amongst our parishioners.

After the Mass, a young family took the time to visit St. Anthony's reliquary in our church (left),
while three young parishioners looked on with awe at Our Lady's statue and relic (right)

"... All glorious is the King’s daughter as she enters,
her raiment threaded with gold;

In embroidered apparel she is led to the King.
The maids of her train are presented to the King.

They are led in with glad and joyous acclaim;
they enter the palace of the King."

~ Psalm 45:14-16  

Monday, August 13, 2012

An update on the Escarchas...

A manifestation of golden
Escarchas in a tiny rosary-bead
formation after I shared about
the Holy Rosary with a friend.
It's been just about two months since I  first encountered  "Escarchas"... and  as of today the beautifully luminous flakes of various colors continue to intermittently materialize around me and around a  few close friends with whom I share a devotion to our Blessed Mother and the Saints.  After witnessing their mysterious appearance on many occasions and praying over and over to discern them - even seeking guidance from a priest - I'm convinced what's occurring is miraculous in nature and a sign from Heaven.  Hence, I've made it a point to note down several close observations in regards to the Escarchas that some readers may find interesting.  'not sure how much of what I listed below applies to other people who've experienced this grace, but these are just some of my personal observations:

*** First, and foremost, the appearance of Escarchas is always unexpected and unpredictable... they can't be "willed" or prayed to appear, but rather, it's all up to God and His divine will as to when and where they manifest.  From what I've seen, this unique form of Manna appears in varying numbers primarily when there is an atmosphere of deep Christian faith and spirituality: during times of personal or group prayer (especially during the Holy Rosary); quiet spiritual reflection; and during and after Holy Mass (especially during the priest's homily, but I've never seen them materializing during the Consecration).

As far as where they appear, I've witnessed their materialization in my bedroom, at my job, in churches, and even in my car when I've driven to Mass or to prayer events where my pilgrim statue and/or relics were invited.  At these places the Escarchas have manifested on a few of my statues and reliquaries (under the glass covering!), in my palms, on the faces and arms of a couple of  friends, as well as on everyday items such as clothing, blankets, and even on my paperwork at my job.

Golden flakes of Escarchas that appeared on a friend's face (chin, eye) while we were faith-sharing,
and on a pew during Mass at St. John Vianney Church in Enchanted Lakes
(click on all the photos on this posting to view larger images)

*** The Escarchas first appeared as silver and golden flakes, but as weeks went by other colors have manifested, too:  green, red, pink, purple, and various shades of blue.  On a few occasions, the Escarchas were even colorless, resembling very small slivers of clear glass. There are a couple of websites that report the colors signify certain meanings, but I haven't experienced anything to the effect that confirmed that theory.  I did notice, however, that the gold and silver Escarchas frequently appeared during Mass.  

A small statue of Our Lady that is manifesting Escarchas on my desk at work

*** The Escarchas ranged in size and shape from very fine  dust-like flakes to larger hexagonal particles; on one occasion, an Escarcha even took the form of a bright red heart (see below), which caught me by surprise and touched me deeply!  Stranger still, at two other times, they materialized in the form of crystalline particles resembling very tiny bits of "rock salt" (there was nothing around me that remotely resembled salt), recalling to mind the significance of salt in Sacred Scripture.

With the mention of the colorless and crystal-like forms, I also want to add that although Escarchas have often been described as "glitter", they are not - there are clear differences in size, shape, and texture from man-made glitter.  In fact, the sense I've gotten is that Escarchas are organic (natural) in composition rather than synthetic (artificial).   

This amazing Escarcha has been interpreted by me to be a reminder that
Christ expresses His love for us through the Mass and the Eucharist

*** The Escarchas always appeared preceded by a small, but very bright "sparkle" of light... to best describe how they appear, my immediate vicinity could be clear of any type of small debris, when suddenly, a little sparkle of white or colored light (like a tiny star!) will appear out of nowhere only to be replaced by an Escarcha.  I have never seen them falling or "raining" down as described by witnesses on other religious websites.

After having collected many of the Escarchas with scotch tape, I noticed that they seem to maintain and emit their own "luminosity" rather than reflecting light from another source... and their vivid colors appear to be enhanced by the light that shines from them, which are often the same color as the Escarchas themselves.

Countless Escarchas that appeared on a friend's arm after she participated
at a First Saturday Rosary for Peace at St. Anthony's Church in Kailua
(click on the triangle at the bottom-left to play the video)

*** The Escarchas, at times, have changed from one color to another.  For example, on one occasion while I was at Mass, an Escarcha manifested near my foot.  I picked-up the glittery flake with a finger and clearly saw that it was silver in color, and I rubbed it into a crease in my palm as a way of safekeeping it until I could collect it with tape. Later, when I opened my hand, I noticed that the same Escarcha had turned bright gold!  At least one other person who I shared a few Escarchas with has reported back to me about its color-changing properties.

Shiny, multi-colored Escarchas that I collected with tape in a span of several days,
and later affixed to prayer cards that were shared with sick family and friends

*** Lastly, the Escarchas have sometimes mysteriously multiplied, and likewise, disappeared.  On several occasions, I've seen  a single flake  materialize on  the surface of something, and after I collected it with a piece of tape, there would suddenly be other Escarchas on the same item or on my fingers!  A few friends with whom I have shared some of the Escarchas with  have reported how the glittery particles have later manifested  on, or around them, during their  personal prayer times, which could also be interpreted as a form of multiplication.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I've seen Escarchas materialize only to vanish as mysteriously as they appeared. More than once, I've put my finger on an Escarcha in order to place it on a piece of tape, but when I looked at my finger, the Escarcha was no where to be seen.

Several Escarchas that appeared and multiplied in both my palms after
I attended a Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu

I have to admit that I'm still baffled as to why this is all happening to me and to my friends. One website that I researched stated that Escarchas are a special sign of the Blessed Mother's presence, or even the Holy Spirit.  I believe the statement is, for the most part, true... and in my experiences I feel strongly that they are connected to the Rosa Mystica Devotion, which I promote.  But I certainly don't claim to be some sort of mystic, nor do I feel particularly worthy of having Our Lady or the Holy Spirit bless me in such a wondrous manner.

What I do know for sure is that each time I witnessed the appearance of Escarchas, I felt a deep conviction in my soul that God exists and He's very, very close to us; not distant and beyond reach as some people may imagine... and He loves us very much and desires us to know it and sense it tangibly.  At the same time, I felt inspired to love God in a deeper manner and my heart was filled with profound joy and gratitude.

The colors in this beautiful photo that I found online best capture
the vivid colors of the Escarchas that I've witnessed

I think a dear friend inadvertently hinted on the purpose of Escarchas when she once made a comment to me after I shared a few gold and green Escarchas with her.  In a tone tinged with emotion, she told me that it was truly "dust from Heaven"... and that if the mere dust from Heaven could be so "beautiful", she can hardly wait to see the rest of God's Kingdom. It was at that point that I came to realize that through the grace of the Escarchas, Jesus was generously giving us just a tiny "sample" of the wonder and glory of his Kingdom and the reward that awaits all of us who believe in Him and remain faithful.

My faith has definitely grown and I, too, am excitedly looking forward to the day when I will finally get to see the full splendor of Heaven in person... and what a sight that will be! Our God is truly a God of marvels... Hallelujah... Hallelujah... Hallelujah!

“For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you.”
~ Isaiah 60:2

Friday, August 10, 2012

A great article about devotion to the Saints...

The article below is from the Catholic News Service website...  I thought I'd post a copy here because I think it encapsulates, in a fine manner, the Catholic Church's teachings on our devotion to the Saints, which this ministry strives to encourage and promote:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony's Church, 8/4/2012

Our Lady of Fatima, Queen of the Holy Rosary, pray for us!

This month's First Saturday Rosary at my home-parish of St. Anthony's Church welcomed back several of our frequent visitors from other parts of the island - Aiea, Kapolei, and Mililani.  There was even a new face in the pews, which is always a joy to see.

Today, I officially broke in my recently acquired Fatima Pilgrim Virgin statue, which looked absolutely beautiful on the display altar... and I also shared the life of St. Jeanne Delanoue with the people who attended, along with her bone-relic, which we venerated with the Sacred Relic of Our Lady's veil.

As we offered prayers for Peace, the spiritual presence of our dear Blessed Mother was sensed among us and it was even manifested through the unexpected appearance of escarchas, which was witnessed by at least three of us in the Day Chapel after our prayer meeting finished... and also during the Mass that followed in the main church.  It was another wonderful gift from Our Lady that left us feeling grateful and deeply humbled.

Our next First Saturday Rosary will be prayed on Saturday, 9/1, at 4:30pm.  All are welcomed to join us in responding to Our Lady of Fatima's request that we pray for peace and for the conversion of sinners.

A closer view of the relics of St. Jeanne Delanoue, a French founder of a religious
congregation (left)... and Our Lady's veil.  Both relics are certified as genuine.
(click on the photos to view larger images)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Saint of the Month - August 2012: Saint Mariam of Jesus Crucified

St. Mariam (Baouardy) of Jesus Crucified
The "Little Nothing" ~ Feast: August 25th

This Carmelite mystic's life was filled with tales of extraordinary wonders that began from her childhood years, some of which would seem so astounding as to leave most minds skeptical, if not for the many credible witnesses who vouched for their veracity.  Born on February 5, 1846, to devout Christian parents in Abellin (Palestine), Mariam Baouardy was orphaned at a very young age.  An uncle adopted her, and she was treated very well until the topic of marriage was brought up when she was only 13-years-old.  Although she was still quite young, the child had already planned on consecrating herself wholly to God through a vow of perpetual virginity, but her uncle would not hear any of it.  He attempted to break Mariam's will by treating her as a servant in his home, which tried her sorely.

During this rough patch in her life, a male-servant in her uncle's household befriended Mariam, but he did so with the intent of converting her to Islam.  When she learned of the servant's plan she rebuked him and professed her faith in Christ, which enraged the man who slashed her in the throat with a sword. The servant then carried the maiden's limp body into an alley and left her there for dead.  From that moment on, her life-long contact with the supernatural began with the miraculous healing of her fatal wound by the Blessed Virgin (Mariam bore a deep scar and spoke with a hoarse voice for the rest of her life as a result of the horrible neck wound).  After her recovery, she never returned to her uncle's home but instead went to a neighboring city where she worked as a servant for a devout Christian family.  Following divine inspiration, in 1863 she boarded a ship to Marseilles, France, where she joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition.

A photo of Bl. Mariam,
clothed in the Carmelite habit
As a fledgling nun, Mariam's spiritual life intensified as the mystical phenomenon that she had already been experiencing became even more manifest, mainly through Ecstasies and Visions.   To these were added bleeding  Stigmata  and astounding Levitations, which distressed her as she was often misunderstood and looked upon with suspicion by many of the other nuns.  In addition, as her relationship with God deepened, she longed for a more contemplative life, away from curious eyes, so she sought and received official dispensation to leave and enter the Discalced Carmelites of Pau in 1867; she took the name "Sr. Mariam of Jesus Crucified".  Her new life as a Carmelite was marked with deep humility and a desire to abase herself even to the point of referring to herself as the "little nothing".
In 1870 Sr. Mariam was one of several nuns who was sent to Mangalore, India, to establish a new Carmel there.  She continued to experience spiritual phenomenon including physical harassment from the devil, but she was also consoled by angelic visits.  Her profound love for the Holy Spirit prompted her to write to the Pope urging him to promote more devotion to the Divine Paraclete as she felt that there wasn't enough emphasis about Him in the Church.

In 1872 she returned briefly to France before setting out to the Middle East to establish another Carmel in Bethlehem.  She was happy at the thought of being able to pray for the conversion of her people on her home soil but Divine Providence would have it that she not spend much time in Palestine.  While assisting with the construction of the new monastery, Sr. Mariam had a serious fall that broke her arm.  The injury was not properly treated and it quickly lead to a gangrenous condition that claimed her life on August 26, 1878; she was only 32-years-old.

The Discalced Carmelite Order held the memory of Sr. Mariam of Jesus Crucified in high esteem so it was with great joy that they celebrated her Canonization on May 17, 2015.  Her tomb and relics are venerated in the Carmel she established, and she is invoked in a special way as a Herald of Peace and Hope in the war-torn regions of the Middle East.

A Reflection
"Every person in the world that will invoke the Holy Spirit and have devotion to Him will not die in error."
~ Words of St. Mariam of Jesus Crucified

A Short Prayer
Come, Holy Spirit, inflame our souls with the Fire of Love and the Light of God’s Divine Truth.  Amen.